“Money can’t buy you happiness,” the old saying goes. Turns out, that’s not exactly true. According to a new study published in the science journal Emotion, while finances may have played less of a role in personal fulfillment in the past, these days, it’s increasingly important. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. No one? I didn’t think so.
- The change started all the way back in the 1970s. The ability of money to “buy” or bring happiness to people’s lives wasn’t an overnight change. In fact, it started about 50 years ago, with “the positive correlation between socioeconomic status” including your actual income as well as education and career status growing steadily throughout that time.
- Money buys happiness now more than ever before. “The happiness-income link has gotten steadily stronger over the decades — happiness is more strongly related to income now than it was in the 1970s and 1980s,” lead study author and San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge told Fox Business. “So money buys happiness more now than in the past.”
- The study was pretty widespread. The researchers used data from the General Social Survey, which collects info regarding changes in American society from 44,198 participants between 1972 and 2016. There’s one particular question the participants are asked: “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days? Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?” From there, the researchers separated everyone by income and looked at their answers. The result? Those with less money became increasingly unhappier over the years.
- People with more money had more stable happiness levels. Those who were associated with higher socioeconomic status had generally the same level of happiness throughout those years, likely because they weren’t broke. While the Black adults with less money slightly differed in their results, the point remained that money made people more satisfied. “Thus, the happiness advantage favoring high-SES adults has expanded over the decades,” the report concluded.
- More money, more happiness. Strangely enough, you can never get to a point where you have too much money and the scales start tipping the other way. In fact, the more cash participants had, the better they reported feeling. “Unlike some previous studies that found happiness leveled off after a yearly income of $75,000, we found that happiness kept going up with more income, even at higher income levels,” Twenge explained.
- This is the least surprising study ever. It’s not the money itself that buys happiness, it’s what that money represents. Yes, it’s nice to be able to buy yourself the things you want in life, whether that’s a really nice house or car or little things like new clothes or a pair of earrings you like. However, I imagine much of the unhappiness that comes with being broke is the stress that it causes. Not knowing how you’re going to pay your rent or bills or not being able to afford to go out with your friends because you don’t have money is depressing and demoralizing. Therefore, it would only make sense that since money increases your quality of life, it also makes you happier.