Study: The Cost Of Happiness Is Going Up

Indeed, the cost of happiness appears to be soaring.  The optimum happiness income is now up to $75,000, according to a study just released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  That’s an increase of 50% over the $50,000 a 2005 study found.

The survey polled 450,000 Americans and was conducted in 2008 and 2009 by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index which included questions on people’s day-to-day happiness and their overall life satisfaction.  Happiness got better as income rose but the effect leveled out at $75,000.

We certainly haven’t had a 50% inflation rate over the four years difference in the two studies to account for the huge increase.   Perhaps Americans have decided it’s taking a lot more money to buy happiness these days.

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One Response to Study: The Cost Of Happiness Is Going Up

  1. Neal Van Zutphen, CFP(R) September 7, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    Hi Rick

    This makes sense when you consider the symbolic power of money (The Symbolic Power of Money, Zhou, X., Vohs, K.D., & Baumeister, R.F. 705)

    Counting money makes people feel stronger
    Recollections of having spent money makes people feel weaker
    Thinking about money made physical pain feel less acute.
    Thoughts of losing money made physical pain worse-
    thoughts of losing money made social rejections sting more and feelings of rejection stirred a greater desire for money
    The symbolic power of money is so pervasive that our self-esteem, self-image and whether or not we are loved or lovable is measurable in terms of money.
    In a separate study a significant loss of money can cause “broken heart” syndrome and even death.

    With the Great Recession losses are having a cumulative affect on our well being and in order to “recover” our perceived costs of happiness have risen as a means of catching up and if things turn bad again, perhaps by 33%, we’ll have the orginal $50,000 per annum.


    Neal Van Zutphen, CFP(R)