Money and Happiness: The Age-Old Debate

Most people think that money is directly linked with happiness. This study was designed to answer a few universal questions related to money and happiness. The study evaluated the relationship between money and different types of well-being, which had been ignored in previous studies. A survey was conducted across the world in 132 countries, representing 96 percent of the world’s population. It was found that while money is directly related to well-being that involves satisfaction in life, it might not provide positive feelings, an indicator of sociopsychological well-being.

This study focused on answering several important questions related to money and well–being. Behavioral scientists have studied questions such as “Can money buy happiness?” many times, but they have not been able to find definite answers. For example, there had not been any significant study on the mediators between income and well-being. In addition, the investigators have largely ignored evaluating positive and negative feelings. This study explored whether money is an indicator of quality of life and positive feelings. The relation between income and well–being in wealthy and poor nations is also an important part of this study, which elucidates why it varies in different groups. The Gallup World Poll (GWP), the “first representative sample of planet Earth,” was used to assess the standard of living, life satisfaction, and positive and negative feelings.

* The GWP conducted representative surveys of 132 countries from 2005-2006, by telephone in urban areas and door-to-door visits in rural areas.
* Respondents aged 15 and above were selected randomly, resulting in 136,839 total respondents, which included about 1,061 people from each country.
* Questions were asked to predict subjective well-being, which includes global life evaluation, positive feelings, and negative feelings.
* Economic conditions (like personal income) and sociopsychological conditions (like respect and reliable friends and relatives) were evaluated by using a questionnaire.

* While an increase in income was found to increase life satisfaction, it did not have a similar effect on positive feelings that include happiness and enjoyment.
* The rise in life satisfaction because of a higher income was due to a better standard of living and higher comfort. However, these were not associated with positive feelings like joy and happiness.
* Positive feelings were found to depend on social and psychological factors like respect from friends and family, reliability of friends and relatives, number of working hours, and job satisfaction.
* Overall, money could only increase life satisfaction due to increase in luxury and comfort, but had no effect on happiness, enjoyment, and pleasure. Happiness therefore depended not on income but on the social and psychological status of the individual.

Next steps/Shortcomings
The answers for the questions related to feelings may have been influenced by the short-term moods of people. Therefore, it would have been better to study these feelings over a longer period. The format used in the questionnaire was “yes/no”. It is suggested that further studies be carried out by using other types of formats.

Overall, this study provides useful information about how money relates to well-being. Many people believe that money is closely associated with happiness. However, some people have experienced that money cannot buy happiness. This study addresses some of the misconceptions related to money and well-being.  People believe that money is directly linked with life satisfaction, since it raises their status in society. Moreover, people always prefer to live in a wealthy nation. However, in reality, money is not directly related to enjoyment, happiness, and other positive feelings. Apart from improving their economies, nations should also focus on the social and psychological well-being of the people.

For More Information:
Wealth and Happiness across the World: Material Prosperity Predicts Life Evaluation, whereas Psychosocial Prosperity Predicts Positive Feeling
Publication Journal: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2010
By Ed Diener; Weiting Ng; University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign, Illinois, The Gallup Organization, Omaha, Nebraska, and Singapore Institute of Management

Tags from the story
, ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *