A new study seeks to finally put to rest an age-old question: Can money buy happiness?

For the vast majority of people, money does in fact buy happiness and only plateaus for up to a fifth of individuals.

The study, published on 1st March 2023, was conducted by a couple of researchers who previously had contradicting conclusions.

The first study conducted in 2010 by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton found that happiness steadily increased in tangent with income to a certain level, and then plateaued.

The second study done in 2021 by Matthew Killingsworth found that happiness on average increased with income, without a plateau, directly contradicting the first study.

Professor Kahneman and Professor Killingsworth got together, and along with Barbara Meller conducted a re-analysis of the data from the two studies.

They found that both conclusions were to some extent correct.

Everyone’s level of happiness increased as their level of income increased, but the unhappiest 15 to 20 per cent experienced a plateau.

Lines indicating the rate of increase in happiness relative to the increase in income (study)

Researchers noted that for the unhappiest group of people, happiness increased at an accelerated rate before plateauing. They attributed the plateau to “miseries that remain” such as, “heartbreak, bereavement and clinical depression.”

Meanwhile, the happiest 30 per cent saw their rate of happiness accelerate once they passed the $100,000 (€94,620.80) threshold.

“In the low range of incomes, unhappy people gain more from increased income than happier people do. In other words, the bottom of the happiness distribution rises much faster than the top in that range of incomes. The trend is reversed for higher incomes, where very happy people gain much more from increased income than unhappy people do,” read the researcher’s paper.

Nevertheless, the relationship between income and well-being was described as “weak, even if statistically robust.”



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