Does money bring happiness? A question that until recently was unanswered today seems to have found a scientific solution. Earning more makes everyone, or almost everyone, happier. To say it’s a new neuroscience study published in 2023 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research stems from a collaboration of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton: Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in economics, and Matt Killingsworth, an expert in happiness studies.
“The amazing thing is that they started from two different theses,” explains Lorenzo Dornetti, CEO of Neurovendita, a private neurosciences company. For Kahneman, the relationship between money and happiness amounted to 100,000 euros, and from there the two variables were separated; For Killingsworth, on the other hand, there was no ceiling of €100,000, and as annual performance increased (equal to the sum of income and investment returns), the level of happiness always rose.”
The research they did together proved them right, highlighting three findings about the relationship between money and happiness. The first is that “the ceiling effect of €100,000 a year exists but only for the unhappiest 15% of the population”. For those in emotional distress, money only produces positive effects up to that amount, after which it becomes unimportant. The second implication is that instead of what Kahneman said, for the 60% of the population scoring levels of happiness between average and good, the ceiling effect is absent: the amounts of money available lead to higher levels of happiness.
The third finding concerns the super-happy, 25% of the population: among them, high growth in income leads to very intense levels of well-being. According to the study conducted by Kahneman and Killingsworth, for the vast majority of the population (85%), contrary to what has been believed for centuries, the secret of happiness is money. The research reached these conclusions by analyzing the responses of 33,000 American workers to the question “Track Your Happiness: How Happy Are You?”. Participants were asked the same question on an app every day, at different times of the day, with a total of 1.7 million data points collected and analysed.
Measured happiness is the subjective experience of well-being. Today, thanks to technology, we can study them, not just to make them the subject of philosophical speculation, ”says Dornetti. “These findings put an end to the debate comparing GDP growth to people’s well-being,” Dornetti asserts. “It is good to remember, however, that money is only one of the variables that has a positive effect on happiness; there is the web of emotional relationships, job satisfaction, the sphere of spirituality, And all the elements that interact with each other positively affect the level of people’s happiness ».
For this reason, it may still be too early to talk about money as a recipe for happiness.
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