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The Money-Happiness Link

Have you ever heard of the Easterlin paradox? Richard Easterlin, an economist at the University of Pennsylvania, argued in 1974 that having more money didn’t necessarily mean people were happier. It’s a concept that has become accepted amongst even the most successful of businessmen.

Now that concept is being challenged.

Two students from Easterlin’s alma mater, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, now argue that people in the richest countries around the world are happiest, or most satisfied, with their lives. They used information from Gallup opinion polls and tracked it on a grid comparing it to a country’s GDP. According to their research, the higher the GDP, the higher the satisfaction level.

The New York Times found Easterlin to ask him for his response to this new research, and though he agreed that people in richer countries were probably happier, he attributed that happiness to cultural differences in their responses to the polls.

An individual’s idea of happiness is very personal, so what makes one person happy may not make another person happy. However, knowing that one’s needs are taken care of financially can bring a certain peace of mind, allowing you to be happy.

Do you think money can buy happiness? [The New York Times]

Posted: 4/16/08

I agree that the stress that comes with financial hardship can cause a great deal of unhappiness in people's lives. However, I think the real question to consider is what holds the most value in your life. Is it time with your family? Gaining a stronger sense of self-respect? Enriching your life through education or experience? None of those have a dollar value, but I would argue are priceless. The quest for more spending power should never overshadow the desire to increase your spirit power.


It doesn't necessarily buy happiness but it does remove a lot of stress. If you spend every day worrying about how you will pay this bill and that bill you get very stressed out. If you had plenty of money to pay for bills and things you need then you would have less worry and stress.

  • By ggbg888
  • on 4/18/08 5:10 AM EST