Why is money not wealth

Happiness: Satisfaction increases the more money you have - with no upper limit

A study by happiness researcher Matthew Killingsworth shows that happiness increases as people make more money.

So far, the assumption has been that this only applies up to an annual income of around 62,000 euros - and after that the money no longer makes any difference to satisfaction.

The new study shows, however, that the more money they earn, the more satisfied people feel. And regardless of how much more.

“You can't buy happiness”? Apparently it does. A new study shows: More money makes you happier - no matter how rich you already are. Previously, researchers had assumed that money increases satisfaction up to a certain point, but then makes no significant difference once you have reached a certain level of wealth. The study published in the specialist journal “PNAS” now refutes this.

University of Pennsylvania scientist Matthew Killingsworth studied the relationship between wealth and happiness. To do this, he analyzed 1,725,994 real-time reports on the well-being of 33,391 employed Americans. These were asked repeatedly by the “Track your happiness” app at random times throughout the day: “How are you feeling right now?”.

The results show: Well-being increases linearly with household income - without an upper limit. In the study, Killingsworth explains: "Previous studies have shown that the well-being experienced above an income of $ 75,000 per year does not increase." That is the equivalent of about 62,000 euros.

However, this finding is based on a data set that may not reflect the actual emotional experience, writes Killingsworth. The assessments there were assessed by the respondents in retrospect or in comparisons. The new study, on the other hand, analyzed real-time reports and placed them directly in relation to rising income. And that with a "just as steep slope above $ 80,000 as below it," adds the happiness researcher.

Millionaires are happier too

A study by the German Institute for Economic Research last year came to a result similar to that of Killingsworth. The investigation mainly focused on millionaires. On a scale from one to ten, people from the various asset groups were asked to rate their general satisfaction and to rate aspects such as family, health, work or leisure.

People from the lower half of the wealth distribution got an average of 7.1 satisfaction points. For wealthy people the value was already higher, at 7.6. Millionaires topped all of them: They had an average of 8.2 points. Here, too, satisfaction seemed to increase consistently with more wealth.

However, it is not yet entirely clear to scientists why this connection exists - the reasons are simply very diverse and individual. One factor could be that people with higher incomes feel more in control of their lives, says happiness researcher Killingworth.

Money can buy time and thus satisfaction

A team led by researcher Ashley V. Whillans from Harvard Business School identified another factor for happiness and satisfaction in 2017: time.

In their study, the researchers come to the conclusion that people have greater life satisfaction when they spend money on time-saving services. For example, when they let someone else do their jobs and have more free time for things that are really important to them. And those who have more money can also afford more such services, such as domestic help.

"There may be a point at which money loses its wellbeing effect," said Killingsworth. "But the current results indicate that this point is higher than previously assumed."