The question that economists, psychologists and philosophers have debated for centuries, “Can money buy happiness?,” has been answered. New research by a Nobel Prize-winning economist and other researchers finds that yes, for most people, money seems to boost happiness but only up to a point. And that point is half a million dollars.
The study involved 33,391 working U.S. adults with a median household income of $85-thousand who answered questions about their sense of well-being. And the findings suggest that happiness does improve with higher income, with earnings up to $500-thousand a year. But the study notes that participants with a salary higher than that are “quite rare,” so they don’t have comprehensive data for that group.
"In the simplest terms, this suggests that for most people, larger incomes are associated with greater happiness," explains study co-author Matthew Killingsworth. And there’s even a group researchers call the “happiest 30%,” whose feelings of well-being “sharply accelerate” once they earn more than $100-thousand. But study authors stress that their findings don’t mean money can solve all of your problems, as Killingsworth says, “Money is not the secret to happiness, but it can probably help a bit.”
- The study also finds that there’s a smaller “unhappy group” of folks who don’t seem to experience more joy from making more money.
- Killingsworth sums them up like this: “If you’re rich and miserable, more money won’t help.”