Can Money Buy Happiness?


Before I answer, let’s talk about what we think instinctively. I would guess that most of us live our lives in a way that exhibits some belief that money will bring about happiness. We work hard for a promotion or try to innovate in a way that increases revenue for our business. We pursue a bigger house, faster car, newer gadget, or more stylish clothes. We fantasize about what it would be like to win the lottery. When we think about having more money, it is usually followed by excitement, or relief, or some other positive emotion.

So we predict that more money will bring about more happiness. Unfortunately, this is not how it plays out.

Studies that seek to answer this question usually find the same thing. Emotional well-being does tend to increase as someone earns more money but then flatlines after a certain threshold. That threshold is usually the median income of the country. In real terms, once someone earns around $75,000, their happiness does not continue to increase as they earn more. The popular hypothesis is that once our basic needs have been met, happiness and money are not that connected.

So if you are one who continues to accumulate wealth, it may be worth asking if you are getting happier.

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