Sep 9, 2010
Money can buy you happiness but only if you earn £50,000 a year – after that you really have to work for it, a study claims.
Earning less than that amount can make you miserable – but earning more does not greatly increase enjoyment of life, it was found.
Researchers found that life contentment only rose steadily with annual income up to level – $75,000, or just below £50,000.
Once earnings soared above this the important things in life such as family and wellbeing made money much less significant
The quality of the randomly-selected participants’ everyday experiences did not improve significantly beyond a salary of £48,960.98.
But as income dropped from that amount, respondents reported decreasing happiness and increasing sadness and stress, according to the findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The psychologists Prof Daniel Kahneman and Prof Angus Deaton explained people’s life evaluations rise steadily with income but the quality of emotional daily experiences levels-off once earnings reach a certain amount.
Life evaluations were measured by asking 1,000 respondents to rate their lives on a scale of zero to 10 while emotional wellbeing was measured according to experiences of certain positive and negative emotions the previous day.
The data also suggested the emotional pain of unfortunate events or circumstances including disease, divorce and being alone are exacerbated by poverty.
The researchers said the study does not imply people’s lives will not improve after a raise in annual income from $100,000 (£64,900) to $150,000 (£97,350).
But above a certain income people’s emotional wellbeing is held back by other more important issues.
Prof Kahneman and Prof Deaton, of Princeton University, New Jersey, said: "The question of whether ‘money buys happiness’ comes up frequently in discussions of subjective wellbeing in both scholarly debates and casual conversation.
"More money does not necessarily buy more happiness, but less money is associated with emotional pain.”