We all know the equation: more money subtracts stress and adds a peace of mind not afforded the cash-strapped working poor. In other words, money buys some measure of happiness. But a new study by the Brookings Institute suggests something more: that the wealthier you are, the happier you become. So, evidently, money buys you infinite happiness.
“In 1974 Richard Easterlin famously posited that increasing average income did not raise average well-being, a claim that became known as the Easterlin Paradox,” the Brookings summary reads. “Since then, some researchers have acknowledged the existence of a link between income and well-being among those whose basic needs have not been met, but claim that beyond a certain income threshold ( a ‘satiation point’), further income is unrelated to well-being. But new research by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers finds a robust link between income and well-being among both the poor and the rich.”
The Atlantic notes that this principle applies on a global scale, too. Richer countries lend their denizens more leisure time and more time to self-reflect, thus creating a relatively happy population.
To which we utter a resounding, “Duh.” Oh, you mean the less you have to worry about car payments, being part of your friend’s extravagant wedding party and paying for your Ivy League education the more you can enjoy life? Color me shocked.
Sure, this seems to be the first time anyone made a serious academic effort to research the money-buys-happiness phenomenon to back up suspicions a lot of us have held all along. But it’s hardly surprising, despite all those years of society lecturing us about how “money can’t buy happiness.” We all secretly thought otherwise, right?
But happiness is subjective and money can only do so much to bolster your sense of purpose. PayScale digs up a lot of data about job satisfaction – one important shade of happiness, you could say – and how it relates to compensation. What it found is that people who have a sense of purpose report higher satisfaction than someone who’s paid more and just going through the motions.
Tell Us What You Think
What makes you happier: money or purpose? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.
More from PayScale