Money really does buy happiness. At least that’s the results according to one survey, in which more than 125,000 people around the world participated. Across the board, regardless of age, gender, or location, people with more money felt happier about their lives than those with less money. This is the largest study of its kind to investigate the relationship between money and happiness.
The survey, which measured a person’s sense of well-being based on factors such as feeling respected, having friends and family to rely on, and having a sense of control over one’s own life, may indicate more what money offers than the power of money in and of itself.
University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Einer led the study. He explained, “Yes, money makes you happy – we see the effect of income on life satisfaction is very strong and virtually ubiquitous and universal around the world, but it makes you more satisfied than it makes you feel good. Positive feelings are less affected by money and more affected by the things people are doing day to day.”
While previous studies have indicated a connection between money and happiness, work in the area has never been conducted on such a global scale. This is the first broad-scale international study to make an effort to identify the differences between emotions and satisfaction in life and how money interacts with those differences.
Fellow researcher Daniel Kahneman, professor emeritus of psychology at Princeton University, says this study brings psychologists into a “new era” of well-being analysis.
Kahneman explained, “When people evaluate their life, they compare themselves to a standard of what a successful life is, and it turns out that standard tends to be universal: People in Togo and Denmark have the same idea of what a good life is, and a lot of that has to do with money and material prosperity. That was unexpected.”
What the researchers have discovered is that beyond money, what makes people everywhere feel “happy” are universal feelings, making it easier for psychologists to identify what components it might take to have a content life.
“What we didn’t know before is the extent to which life evaluation and emotional well-being are so distinct. When you look at the books about well-being, you see one word — it’s happiness. People do not distinguish.”
The survey was conducted by Gallup and has been referred to as the “first representative sample of planet Earth.” The study was designed to be statistically representative of the world, and represents almost 96 percent of the population.
Using a list of measures designed to determine the person’s life happiness, including such basic needs as food and shelter and such complex components as to whether or not they smiled the previous day, the study showed that overall life satisfaction was correlated with income.