Can money make you happy?

First instinct, what do you think?

Some people would instinctively think no to this – partly because of a belief that is the case but partly because of not wanting to seem too greedy or materialistic.

Others would instinctively think yes – potentially applying this to their own circumstances or just having the general belief.

This is an area of much discussion, particularly with academic circles and the world of behaviour economics. The question of whether ‘money buys happiness’ is definitely an intriguing one.

So what is the answer that the great academics in this field have decided?

Well yes, but only kinda!

Firstly, it depends upon what the definition of ‘happiness’ actually is – which can be different between studies. The concept of ‘wellbeing’ generally is a pretty subjective term. In the leading studies some use the concept of ‘emotional wellbeing’ (the frequency with which people experience different emotional qualities). Whereas others use ‘life evaluation’ (an overall perspective on their life).

If we can move on from that and consider the findings, the consensus answer amongst most academics is as follows:

  • Increased income can increase happiness – but only to a certain point (variable per study but the most accepted it from a study in 2010 with a figure of $75,000 per annum). Beyond that figure studies indicated the happiness levels begin to plateau out.
  • For people who already consider themselves to be ‘happy’, more money would not make them significantly more so, but for those who don’t it can act negatively.

Having read this and had a bit of time to consider, what do you think? Can money buy happiness?