Princeton, NJ – After $75,000, Money Can’t Buy Day-to-Day Happiness

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    Princeton, NJ – People say money doesn’t buy happiness. Except, according to a new study from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, it sort of does — up to about $75,000 a year. The lower a person’s annual income falls below that benchmark, the unhappier he or she feels. But no matter how much more than $75,000 people make, they don’t report any greater degree of happiness.

    Before employers rush to hold — or raise — everyone’s salary to $75,000, the study points out that there are actually two types of happiness. There’s your changeable, day-to-day mood: whether you’re stressed or blue or feeling emotionally sound. Then there’s the deeper satisfaction you feel about the way your life is going — the kind of thing Tony Robbins tries to teach you. While having an income above the magic $75,000 cutoff doesn’t seem to have an impact on the former (emotional well-being), it definitely improves people’s Robbins-like life satisfaction. In other words, the more people make above $75,000, the more they feel their life is working out on the whole. But it doesn’t make them any more jovial in the mornings.

    The study, by economist Angus Deaton and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who has won a Nobel Prize for Economics, analyzed the responses of 450,000 Americans polled by Gallup and Healthways in 2008 and 2009. Participants were asked how they had felt the previous day and whether they were living the best possible life for them. They were also asked about their income.

    The authors found that most Americans — 85% — regardless of their annual income, felt happy each day. Almost 40% of respondents also reported feeling stressed (which is not mutually exclusive with happiness) and 24% had feelings of sadness. Most people were also satisfied with the way their life was going.

    So, where does the $75,000 come into play? Researchers found that lower income did not cause sadness itself but made people feel more ground down by the problems they already had. The study found, for example, that among divorced people, about 51% who made less than $1,000 a month reported feeling sad or stressed the previous day, while only 24% of those earning more than $3,000 a month reported similar feelings. Among people with asthma, 41% of low earners reported feeling unhappy, compared with about 22% of the wealthier group. Having money clearly takes the sting out of adversities.

    At $75,000, that effect disappears. For people who earn that much or more, individual temperament and life circumstances have much more sway over their lightness of heart than money. The study doesn’t say why $75,000 is the benchmark, but “it does seem to me a plausible number at which people would think money is not an issue,” says Deaton. At that level, people probably have enough expendable cash to do things that make them feel good, like going out with friends. (The federal poverty level for a family of four, by the way, is $22,050.)

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    14 COMMENTS

      • not true. Those of us that struggle for a living, know that money DOES buy happiness. Do you think that the stress of our daily lives don’t cause shalom bais problems. I could tell you for a fact that many wives would love if thier husbands would be more available for the kids, especailly those women that have to hlod a second job and raise the kids. That is not to say that being rich buys happiness. Thier is a fine line. However, having a little more so that our lives can be at ease would buy happiness. Of course we must be mekabal the nissyon of parnasa bahava and work on being happy while stressed out.

      • You’re joking, right? (lol) My husband & I *wish* we made that much! Do you really think the OWS movement is about people DEMANDING to be millionaires too? (:-D

        Most people just want to feed their families! As I’ve already stated above, my husband & I don’t make that much, but we make do! And like poster #5 said, for the average middle-class family…. $75,000 would feel like a DREAM!

        Your statement shows such an ignorance for what poor, working-class people are dealing with! You think people would even *be* protesting… if we all got paid fairly, according to our labor, efforts, skills & education?!

        Good grief…. you surely must be a part of the 1%, if you think people down at OWS are all making MORE THAN that amount… but yet, somehow “aren’t satisfied” with that! I don’t think so! (lol)

        I think it’s the greedy millionaires & billionaires who’s salaries are “never enough”, and cut OUR wages, OUR benefits, OUR jobs, move OUR work overseas and\or fire US… in order to make sure their x-mas bonuses are bigger than last year’s!

        Come on!

        >[:-P What world are you people living in?!

        • SherryTheNoahide,

          As someone who has lived in the NYC metro area and now lives in your neck of the woods, you have to realize that jobs pay way better in NYC, where most of the readers/commentators here are from. However, the cost of living is also much higher.

          Furthermore, being Jewish is rather expensive (anywhere in the country). Usually Jews live in more expensive neighborhoods, partly because of the desire to live together which artificially drives the price higher. But even more expensive is the cost of educating our children, 10-15 thousand dollars per child (sometimes more) per year, from K through 8. If you do the math, with just 3 kids, you have to make an extra $50,000 before taxes to cover education. Kosher food also cost more.

          So I hope you understand, when some here say that 75K is not that much, where they are coming from.

    1. Or in the frum community, after $75,000 per month money doesn’t make one happy. Or on a serious note, a frum family needs $30,000 per head to truly live worry free.

    2. Someone may wish to debate this point but I say that no matter how rich one is, it is no guarantee of good health and a long life. More wealth may buy better medical care and comforts but when your time is up…well.

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