Researchers from various fields have long considered the age-old question of whether money can buy happiness.
In a recent joint study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Daniel Kahneman and Matthew Killingsworth, Challenged the general belief that happiness reaches a plateau after an annual income of $75,000. Killingsworth’s research, contrary to Kahneman’s earlier findings, suggests that happiness can continue to increase even beyond $200,000.
To investigate this, the researchers surveyed 33,391 employed adults in the United States, aged 18 to 65, with a minimum reported household income of $10,000 per year.
Using Killingsworth’s smartphone app called Track Your Happiness, participants were prompted randomly throughout the day to write their current feelings on a scale ranging from “very bad” to “very good.” This allowed researchers to gain insights into real-time experiences of happiness.
The study revealed two significant conclusions. Firstly, for most individuals, happiness was found to increase in parallel with income, even among those with higher incomes. This suggests that having more money can contribute to greater happiness.
However, around 20% of participants became an “unhappy minority” whose misery did not diminish with increased income. These individuals faced challenges such as heartbreak, grief, or clinical d*pression, which money could not help significantly beyond a certain point, typically around $100,000.
It is crucial to acknowledge that happiness is a subjective experience that varies greatly among individuals. The study recognized the existence of different happiness levels and the potential for a happiness ceiling.
Interestingly, the relationship between money and happiness differed based on income levels. Lower earners tended to experience more significant improvements in happiness with increased income compared to those who were already happier.
While the study offers insights into the complex relationship between money and happiness, it underscores that money is not the sole determinant of well-being.
Killingsworth emphasized that money is one of many factors contributing to happiness and not a guaranteed formula for it, Since some people find happiness in various other aspects of life.
But money can contribute to a happier life, He added, “Money is just one of the many determinants of happiness, Money is not the secret to happiness, but it can probably help a bit.”