Turns out money can buy happiness. Excerpt:
“Does money buy happiness?,” asked economist Richard Easterlin in his famous 1973 essay in The Public Interest. His conclusion was that once a certain level of economic development had been achieved, greater wealth and income did not lead to greater overall happiness. At an aggregate level, more money does not buy more happiness, he claimed. However subsequent research found that people dwelling in higher-income countries are happier than those living in poorer places. Nevertheless, Easterlin continues to doggedly defend his position.
There is also the claim, supposedly based on work by Princeton economist and Nobelist Angus Deaton and his colleagues that happiness, does not increase once an individual’s income reaches about $75,000 per year. Actually, what the study found is that more money does not affect the immediate level of joys, stress, and sadness, but does correlate strongly with measures of overall life satisfaction.
A new study using happiness survey data encompassing the responses of 44,000 adult Americans between 1972 and 2016 from the General Social Survey (GSS) finds that more money does in fact correlate with more happiness.
I remember, back in the early Eighties, watching some goof interviewing Van Halen‘s David Lee Roth. The founding members of Van Halen had all grown up in working-class households, and at that time were still adjusting to the fame and fortune that the fans had thrown their way. Roth went on at some length at how much money they were making.
“You know, Dave,” the interviewer said, “you can’t buy happiness.”
Roth flashed his usual charismatic grin and said “Maybe, but I can buy a yacht big enough to sail right up next to it.”
In my life I’ve been poor and I’ve been, like I am today, maybe not rich but at least comfortably well found. I much prefer the latter. I’ve worked very hard for many years to get there.
Money isn’t really a thing in and of itself, after all, in these days of fiat currencies and electronic transactions; money is a measure of personal value, and a measure of one’s resources. Money is a tool we use to trade with one another. As Ayn Rand put it (abridged for the film):
So it should come as a surprise to no one that having more resources at one’s command would, in general, lead to more satisfaction in life than having less resources. That’s not a universal; my Mom used to describe growing up on a small farm in the Depression, when they generally had very little money but always enough to eat (advantage of being on a farm), a secure home and the love of their parents. She always described those as happy years; she had a very happy childhood, Great Depression notwithstanding.
But the study linked here sure seems to confirm the obvious; more resources are better than less. Money brings with it a peace of mind, a lack of it brings a good deal of anxiety.
Money isn’t everything. But it certainly is something.