The link between money and happiness impacts people around the world, according to researchers from the University of Utah. One researcher who studied happiness for 35 years co-authored the study.
Ed Diener, a professor of psychology at the University of Utah found surprising feedback when looking at the correlation of money and happiness among certain levels of income. People who make under $20,000 and struggle with food and housing are not close to the level of happiness of people who make $20 to $40,000. He says the biggest changes in happiness happen with people under the $100,000 mark. After that, every dollar counts less in adding to your happiness.
“That was quite surprising,” Diener said. “Even going beyond that finding, we found that in a few places, there’s actually a down turn. Let’s say $200,000 a year you might not be as happy making $100,000 a year. That was really surprising.”
Why are some people who make over $200,000 not as happy as people who make less money? Diener said there are two reasons. People working 70 hour weeks just to earn extra money are less likely to be happy.
“Really highly materialistic people tend not to be as average,” Diener said. “They worry about money too much, worry about being above other people too much. Some higher incomes start to get you to think about that more and it’s not helpful to life satisfaction.”
But this isn’t the case for everyone who has higher incomes.
“We don’t want to go out and say, ‘Quit making a lot of money,’” Diener said. We just want to warn people that if you’re making, let’s say $80,000 a year, don’t think that you need to have more to get happier, because it just may not help you that much.”
Diener said people can always climb the ladder and make more money, but prioritizing social circles over materialistic things helps improve happiness and life satisfaction.
“What we found was that every single super happy person we studied, without exception, had good social relationships,” Diener said. “There may be somebody out there who has no friends and is super happy, but we didn’t find them.”
According to Diener happiness is complicated and goes beyond money. More research is being done on where people are born, personalities and their link with happiness.