Money can’t buy happiness — or can it? According to a new study conducted by researchers from Purdue University, there are certain thresholds of income at which people report increased levels of happiness.
The team surveyed 1.7 million people from 164 different countries. They then looked at people’s emotional well-being, day-to-day feelings, and life-evaluation (essentially, how happy one is with their life). The study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, concluded that there are certain thresholds that are evident in the relationship between money and happiness.
Said lead author Andrew T. Jebb in a statement
“It’s been debated at what point does money no longer change your level of well-being. We found that the ideal income point is $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being. Again, this amount is for individuals and would likely be higher for families.”
“And, there was substantial variation across world regions, with satiation occurring later in wealthier regions for life satisfaction,” Jebb continued. “This could be because evaluations tend to be more influenced by the standards by which individuals compare themselves to other people.”
In East Asia, Western and Northern Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, the ideal income for emotional well-being is around $50,000. In North America, the ideal income is between $65,000 and $75,000. The remainder of the planet, excluding North Africa and the Middle East, is between $110,000 and $125,000.
As IFLScience reports, people earning below a certain amount tended to report lower level of life satisfaction, lower emotional well-being, or both. This helped the researchers determine the various thresholds. The team also noted that different social classes may influence the relationship between money and happiness. This is because certain people are focused on affording basic securities (such as food and housing), whereas other as trying to adhere to societal expectations and the scrutinization of peers.
“At this point they are asking themselves, ‘Overall, how am I doing?’ and ‘How do I compare to other people?’” said Jebb. “These findings speak to a broader issue of money and happiness across cultures. Money is only a part of what really makes us happy, and we’re learning more about the limits of money.”
This isn’t the first study of its kind. Researchers at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School concluded that the lower a person’s annual income falls below the $75,000 benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. However, no greater degree of happiness was reported by people who make above the figure, either. This suggests people like relative security, but not the pressure that accompanies making so much money they don’t know how to handle it.
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