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Does More Money Mean More Happiness?
The illustrated oxford dictionary defines happiness as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”. This one word describes the purpose of people all over the globe. Some find it, others die trying. Many people believe that having money or an abundance in the way of material goods will make them happier. The purpose of my research was to find out how wealth does, or does not increase happiness.
Money can be linked indirectly to happiness in several ways. For example, consider the study that was done my Sanford Devoe of the University of Toronto. His study was on the relationship between hourly pay vs. salary pay workers and happiness. Salary workers who were asked to calculate their hourly pay before taking a survey on their happiness rated at the same level of happiness as hourly pay workers. Salary workers who did not calculate their hourly pay rated as having a lower amount of happiness in the different areas of their life.
This is because people often benefit from knowing what their time is worth even outside of the secular environment. They begin to put a value on the time they spend in certain activities. This often leads to appreciating activities that once seemed to be of little value. It also helps people to use the3ir time wisely and to get more accomplished. This can lead to increased feelings of accomplishment and/or happiness. (www.physorg.com/news.183632533.html) This however does not prove that money makes people happy, but that thinking of money in terms of what your time is worth leads to increased productivity, and a greater sense of achievement. The happiness has more to do with your attitude, then it does the amount of money you have.
There is also the idea that relative income effects happiness. It makes a person happy to know that they are worth more in an economic sense than the next guy waiting in line at the grocery store. This is not the same as real income, or the amount the person is making. That person could be making very little, but knowing that they make more than someone else is what makes them happy. Again, this lies in the attitude, not in the money itself.
Another consideration is the fact that a lack of money could bring unhappiness. When someone lacks the funds to care for the basic needs of life, such as food, clothing and shelter they’ll tend to be unhappy.
The research that I have done has lead me to the conclusion that Money does not directly affect happiness unless a lack of money leads to a deprivation of life’s necessities Numerous studies show that once a level of income per capita is reached in a country that will satisfy basic needs, the happiness of a country does not increase with an increase in wealth.
The USA per capita income rose by a factor of 2.75 between 1955 and 2000, but the ratio of Americans reporting themselves as “very happy” did not change. Since 1950 the per capita income has increased tenfold in japan, but the citizens of that country do not report being happier than the citizens of 1950. In the 1955/2000 real values survey Ireland is measured as being the happiest country in the world. Their GDP per capita is only a small amount less than that of Mexico. On the same survey the USA also measures as a happy country, but has an equal happiness ratio of El Salvador which has only 11 percent per capita income of the per capita income of the USA.
It is usually true that as people age they become wealthier. As people age, years of raises and saving being to have a noticeable payoff. This is not accompanied by a rise in the level of happiness as a rule. Many rich old people are very lonely. (www.progressiveic.com )
The law of demand is a common economic principle. When people have more money in their pocket they tend to spend it. An increase in income usually leads to an increase in the demand of goods. On average people want 25% more than what they have. Once they reach an increase of 25% most people unconsciously up their desire to 25% more than what they have after than increase. There is never an amount of money that causes people to say “I have what I need I don’t need an increase in my income”. People always want more; they are never satisfied with what they have. Thus people who view money as the key to happiness can never attain happiness, because they will never view themselves as having enough money.
While people think that money will make the happy it often has the opposite effect on them. Consider the man that has attained enough wealth and savings to remodel his kitchen. Now he enjoys his beautiful cabinets and new appliances for a while, but soon the rest of his house pales in comparison to his kitchen. The living room and bathroom seem especially drab now, and cause him frustration.
When people are raised in luxury or become accustomed to it, smaller things don’t bring enough joy to seem worthwhile. A person who is raised in Crème Brule and gourmet sherbert is often unable to appreciate the fine qualities of a Popsicle. Then, true to the law of diminishing marginal utility crème Brule and Sherbert become as boring as the remodeled kitchen. The pleasure derived from those things continues to diminish and to decrease to almost nothing, and could possibly become negative for a period of time.
Psychologists at the University of Leige did an experiment to see how money affects the ability of people to savor small things in life. The psychologists took 351 adult employees off all types from the university, and asked them to choose one of eight possible reactions (multiple choice) to scenarios that would bring feelings like contentment, joy, and pleasure. The eight different choices included four choices that would help the person the savor the feelings that they were having. If one of those four savoring choices were chosen then the employee would receive one point. No points were awarded for the other four choices. Those who had a stack of money placed in front of them before the survey, as well as those with higher incomes scored much lower than those that did not have money in front of them, or who had lower incomes.
The conclusion? People who have a lot of money, or are even thinking of money have a lessened ability to savor small things. (www.wired.com)
So does money make people happy? The answer that I have come up with is “no”. It is not money that makes a person happy, but money could very easily make a person unhappy. It’s not about what you want, but it’s about wanting what you have. If we appreciate the things that we have, and take the time to savor them our lives are likely to be happier. It’s all in the attitude.
Blackman, Christine. “How Pay Effects Happiness”. Physorg.com. Jan 25 2010
Coleman, William. “Does Money Make People Happy?”. Socialaffairsunit.org. Dec, 1, 2010.
Hartford, Tim. “Money Doesn’t Make People Happy.”. www.forbes.com. Feb, 14, 2006
Dec, 1, 2010
Lehrer, Jonah. “Why Money Makes You Unhappy.” www. Wired.com/weirdscience. July,
21, 2010. Dec, 1, 2010
Sharma, Vijai. P. “Do You Think Money can Make You Happy?” www.mindpub.com. Dec, 1, 2010.
Schiller, Bradley R. Essentials Of Economics 7th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin. 2009 Print.