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More on money (not) buying happiness
September 6th, 2010
03:00 PM ET

More on money (not) buying happiness

You may have seen our coverage of a recent study showing that most people with a household income of $75,000 per year are happy, but that happiness doesn't appear to increase with incomes higher than that.

A newer study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences backs that up when it comes to everyday happiness - but not when people were asked to think about their overall satisfaction with life.

Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton of Princeton University analyzed poll data from the Gallup Organization from more than 450,000 U.S. residents in 2008 and 2009. Their study was conducted completely independently of the Keirsey Research analysis CNN reported  last week.

The Princeton group differentiated between life evaluation, which measures satisfaction with one's life overall, and emotional well-being, which reflects everyday experience. Analyses of happiness don't often make this distinction, and it is an important new development in this line of research, Kahneman said.

He and Deaton found that people's emotional well-being did not increase with higher household incomes after $75,000 - meaning day-to-day happiness does not rise after that point.

But here's where their study parts from the Keirsey analysis: The new study finds that happiness in terms of overall satisfaction with life does continue to rise with higher incomes after $75,000.

The Princeton researchers were surprised by the sharp difference in life evaluation and emotional well-being results after the $75,000 point. One theory behind these findings is that increases in income beyond $75,000 do not improve a person's ability to spend time with people they like, avoid pain and disease, enjoy leisure, and engage in other activities important to emotional well-being. But when people stop and think about their life as a whole, being wealthier makes everything seem better.

"We suspect that this means, in part, that when people have a lot more money, they can buy a lot more pleasures, but there are some indications that when you have a lot of money, you will savor each pleasure less," Kahneman said.

On the other end of the spectrum, less money is associated with emotional pain, the researchers found. Poverty exacerbates the pain of misfortunes such as asthma, divorce, and being alone, as well as stress.

"Reducing suffering is an important social objective, and it's not quite the same thing as making people happy," Kahneman said.

To put this all in perspective, about one third of households had incomes above $75,000 according to the 2008 American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. The average U.S. household income was $71,500 in that survey.


soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Alden Pulver

    Oliver Tyrone developed 1234 Markest Street in Philadlphia Pa. under the direction of Donald Pulver and Gerald Blakely.

    September 19, 2010 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Alden Pulver

    The redevelopment of Bala Cynwd is a result of Donald Pulver and Donell Kilgore of Olvier Tyrone Corporation.

    September 19, 2010 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ithan Mezvinsky

    Read Edward Zinn's A People's History of the United States!

    September 26, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. David & Myrna Band/Sarasota Florida (Siesta Key)

    Edward Zinn is our best voice to save our system of democracy!

    September 26, 2010 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 7888 Sunset Drive

    Agree with Davey Band who has an active adrealnal gland.

    September 26, 2010 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Kenneth Lanaredd

    I love and admire Solly Abrahams!

    September 26, 2010 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Nancy Sharon Axilbund

    David Band played Whitey on Leave It To Beaver!

    September 26, 2010 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Nancy Sharon Axilbund

    Neil Patrick Harris is a Sensitve man who loves Apple Fritters and Tea.

    He is Gay and we Salute his comming out!

    September 26, 2010 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Anne Urkowitz

    Norman and I love Neil and enjoy his Fellowhip!

    September 26, 2010 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Anne Urkowitz

    Gay is bad for our Society!

    September 26, 2010 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tubby Ithan Cook

    Money is Great!

    September 30, 2010 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Leonard Moskowitz

    Money is required to go to Ruby's rib crib!

    September 30, 2010 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. A.A A. Pulver

    Money is good!

    September 30, 2010 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. A. A. A. A. Pugatchh

    We need Doulfas Kofamn to clean up our twon.

    November 4, 2010 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Lucky Lucky Lucky Lucky Tabas

    Money is the root of all sin.

    November 4, 2010 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Lucky Lucky Lucky Lucky Tabas

    I agree with A. A. A.. A

    November 6, 2010 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lucky Lucky Lucky Lucky Tabassssssssssssssssss

    We are family.

    November 6, 2010 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Kay from WA

    As a person making under $12k, I can definitively say more money would make me happier. I am fortunate to be able to use friends' resources to get online, and I am lucky to not be homeless, but I'd love to be able to afford rent on my own.

    January 8, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.