Learnings on the relationship between money & happiness

“Why doesn’t a whole lot more money make us a whole lot happier? One answer to this question is that the things that bring happiness simply aren’t for sale. This sentiment is lovely, popular, and almost certainly wrong.” 

Read about it in this brilliant scientific review on how money does make you happy (extra credits for a scientific article that is written in a humorous and playful way, making it far easier to digest).

  • A recent study rejected the idea that there is something of an upper limit after which more money does not make you any happier. Sky’s the limit! The researchers did however add two important sidenotes: First, the more happiness you want, the more expensive it gets. And second, money is not nearly as important as other factors.
  • In a 2022 study, 200 recipients were given $10.000. The results showed that people with household incomes below $123.000 were significantly happier in the next 6 months, especially in lower-income countries (3 times as happy versus high-income countries).

So why does money make people in low-income countries happier? One explanation might be the role of social comparison. It does not just matter how much money we have for our happiness, but also how much similar people around us have. If you find yourself surrounded by richer people, money might not make you happier at all. Interestingly, we never compare ourselves with the people around us that are poorer than us though. Read more about it in this issue of The University of Utrecht’s magazine (p.26, in Dutch).