Psychology: does money make you happy? – A salary level plays a surprising role

Deepak Gupta February 12, 2022
Updated 2022/02/12 at 12:35 PM

Not much is possible in everyday life without sufficient funds. Financial independence is probably a dream shared by many. But one thing is also interesting: Does money actually make you happy? If you believe science and various studies, there is a correlation between happiness and a certain salary.

Does money make you happy? Research has examined this

Researchers from Singapore and the USA have taken a closer look at the question “Does money make you happy?” from a scientific point of view and have achieved interesting results. Their research, published in March 2021 by the American Psychological Association (APA), initially revealed that money doesn’t make you a more generous person, nor does it make you happier. Other positive characteristics associated with it would also not be strengthened by increasing wealth.

For their analysis, the scientists examined a total of 1.6 million people from 162 countries. While those participants with high incomes were more self-confident and less timid than low-income earners, they were not necessarily perceived as more loving. Other characteristics also stood out:

Observed High Income Characteristics

  • not necessarily more compassionate
  • not necessarily grateful
  • positive, self-directed emotions, such as pride and determination

Observed low-income characteristics

  • more compassion
  • gratitude
  • sadness
  • shame

The real connection between money and happiness

At first glance, it looks as if the question “Does money make you happy?” can only be answered with a “yes” when it comes to personal attitudes towards yourself, i.e. “emotional well-being”. That explains lead researcher and psychologist Eddie Tong. On the other hand, the researchers also qualify that people with more money “should not contribute to building a more considerate and tolerant society”.

A causal connection between more money and positive emotions has not been found, the results are all of a correlative nature, Tong continues. This in turn makes it difficult to scientifically answer the question “does money make you happy?”.

However, research considers a salary level to be important

Even before the current study, researchers at Princeton University were dealing with a similar question. In 2010, however, economics Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton concluded that more money does not mean more happiness must mean, as Time reported.

Especially when an annual salary of 75,000 US dollars (around 63,000 euros) is exceeded. This finding coincides with a study by psychologist Andrew Jebb from Purdue University, which came to a similar conclusion in 2018 annual income sufficient for emotional well-being at $60,000 to $75,000 determined.

The psychologist Matthew Killingsworth from the University of Pennsylvania finally contradicted this in 2021. At least to the extent that his examination of 1.7 million individual pieces of data resulted in a total of over 80,000 US dollars (approx. 67,000 euros) for general life satisfaction, as reported by n-tv. He used the app to survey 33,000 employees at any time of the day by asking “How are you feeling right now?”.

Various factors decide in the end

It is not entirely clear whether such results on the question “Does money make you happy?” can be transferred 1:1 to Germany. The differences in the perception of competition, success and materialism as well as the economic status of people could be too great for that.

Whether money can really bring happiness ultimately depends on what the individual understands by it. Research shows what definition of happiness can lead to success. But Albert Einstein also had a tip for better luck. However, this has nothing to do with money.

Incidentally, according to the UN, there are a few other factors that are associated with the general feeling of happiness. These are also quite easier to achieve than the income mentioned above.

Basic Conditions for General Happiness (Source: UNO)

  • at least 2,500 calories a day
  • a water consumption of 100 liters per day
  • at least 6 m² of living space
  • a place to cook
  • a 6-year education

Sources: American Psychological Association (APA), UNO, Time, n-tv

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