Catalyzing Happiness: How Much Happiness Can Money Really Buy?

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“I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff, too.” ― Steve Martin


While most people might say that being a millionaire would make them happy, it seems that the happiness tipping point is much less than that amount. The Skandia International's Wealth Sentiment Monitor found that the global average "happiness income" is around $161,000 for 13 countries surveyed. In the U.S., the happiness quotient is much lower. A 2011 study conducted by two Princeton University professors analyzed over 450,000 responses to a daily survey of 1,000 randomly selected U.S. residents and found that while life evaluation rose steadily with annual income, the quality of the respondents’ everyday experiences did not improve beyond approximately $75,000 a year. “We conclude that lack of money brings both emotional misery and low life evaluation; similar results were found for anger,” write the authors in the report.


“Beyond $75,000 in the contemporary United States, however, higher income is neither the road to experience happiness nor the road to the relief of unhappiness or stress, although higher income continues to improve individuals’ life evaluations.” Just a year later, the happiness point was $25,000.00 less, as determined by a 2012 poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, which saw big differences in almost all facets of happiness between those who earn less than $50,000 and those who earn more.  Respondents to the poll who made more than $50,000 were more satisfied with their lives concerning factors ranging from friends to health to how they spent their time. 


The study concludes if you make under $50,000, you might be stressed about your personal financial situation. If you make over $75,000, the additional returns on working longer hours might not be worth it anymore. The take-home message of all these studies is that high incomes don’t bring you happiness, but they do bring you a life that you think is better. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS]

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About the Author

Stacey Hall

Stacey Hall, L.S.H., C.N.T.C., is the CEO and Founder of the Hall Institute of Intuitive Wellness and the best-selling author of 'Chi-To-Be! Achieving Your Ultimate B-All.’ ( ).  While recovering from a debilitating illness that left her physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and mentally numb, Stacey Hall made a declaration to herself, “I would devote my life to healing my heart. And, as I learned what made my heart happy, I would share what I learned with others to help them heal their hearts, too.” She joins us to share her insights along this journey.


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