Study Finds Earning More Money Makes People Happier — Duh!

They say money can’t buy you happiness, but most of us know better. Being broke and struggling to pay your bills is no joke. In fact, it’s downright anxiety-inducing and depressing. So, of course it’s no surprise that a new study has confirmed that earning more money makes you happier. Talk about stating the obvious!

The research comes from Daniel Kahneman and Matthew Killingsworth at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, respectively. The pair’s study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, found that as a person’s income rose, so did their levels of satisfaction and contentedness with their lives. Not to belittle scientific research here, but, ya think?!

Interestingly, however, this finding did contradict Kahneman’s previous findings that happiness and income were only related up to about a $75,000 annual salary. Above that, happiness levels didn’t shift much. However, the new study found that happiness continues to increase as wages do, up to a whopping $500,000.

More money = more happiness, not more problems

It makes sense that not having to worry about how you’ll look after your kids, pay your rent, put food on the table, etc. makes you feel a lot better about your life. Same goes for being able to treat yourself and your loved ones to nice things. Having more money alleviates a lot of problems and makes a lot of things in life easier. Ergo, more happiness.

That being said, Killingsworth notes there’s a major caveat to his findings, which were pulled from the data from 33,000 American adults. That caveat is the part of the population that’s got plenty of money but still isn’t happy.

“The exception is people who are financially well-off but unhappy,” he explained, adding that this “unhappy minority” applies to about 20% of people. People in that group didn’t get any happier when they made more than $100,000 a year. After all, there are certain things in life you can’t be saved from no matter how much money you have. Things like “heartbreak, bereavement, and clinical depression” you can’t buy your way out of.

“If you’re rich and miserable, more money won’t help,” Killingsworth pointed out.

Jennifer Still is a writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience. The managing editor of Bolde, she has bylines in Vanity Fair, Business Insider, The New York Times, Glamour, Bon Appetit, and many more. You can follow her on Twitter @jenniferlstill