Can money really buy happiness? It depends…

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According to a new study, money and happiness don’t really have the kind of relationship we might expect.

Though some might assume that more money equals more happiness, that isn’t necessarily the case. However, what is true is that less money leads to less happiness.

Read more: Ask yourself these 3 questions to find financial happiness

How less money leads to less happiness

The study, done by Dr. Christopher J. Boyce of the University of Stirling Behavioural Science Centre in Scotland, followed 18,000 people over nine years and examined the relationship between money and happiness in their lives. 

While an increase in money did not necessarily make people happier, the study found that less money made people less happy. 

Dr. Boyce explained: ‘It is often assumed that as our income rises so does our life satisfaction, however, we have discovered this is not the case. What really matters is when income is lost and this is only important for people who are highly conscientious.’

Read more: 3 mistakes of unhappy retirees

He continued, ‘Continually increasing our income is not an important factor for achieving greater happiness and well-being for most people living in economically developed countries. Instead, we should aim for financial stability to achieve greater happiness, while protecting those individuals who experience negative income shocks.’

There is no shortage of studies relating money to happiness. Last year, University of British Columbia and Michigan State University researchers found that more money, while it does not increase joy, it does decrease sadness.

‘Having more money provides more options for dealing with adversity,’ explain authors Elizabeth Dunn, Kostadin Kushlev, and Richard Lucas. ‘Wealthier people may feel a greater sense of control than poorer people when difficult situations arise.’ This finding is not the opposite of the newest study, but rather the inverse: As money goes up, sadness goes down — while in the first study, as money goes down, sadness goes up. 


Read more: How to stop living paycheck to paycheck

Still, another widely publicized 2010 study found that people were the most happy with an income of at least $75,000 a year, but the level of happiness plateaued after $75,000. ‘High incomes don’t bring you happiness, but they do bring you a life you think is better,’ concluded the authors. 

According to these studies at least, it’s best to avoid a decrease in income, and also note that money can decrease sadness, at least a little. 

Read more: 10 simple scientifically proven ways to increase your happiness

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