It turns out money can buy happiness, according to a study by the University of Warwick and Cardiff University, but only if you feel like it is making you richer than your friends and colleagues.
The study, which sought to explain why the average happiness in the world’s richest countries has not increased in the past 40 years, shows that it is not the amount of money you earn that increases your level of satisfaction with life, but the amount that you earn in relation to those in your social circle.
Lead researcher Chris Boyce of the University of Warwick’s Psychology Department stated in a press release Monday that the research in the study shows that your actual level of income is only significant in reference to where you perceive that it ranks you socially.
“Earning a million pounds a year appears to be not enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2 million a year,” stated Boyce in an interview with ScienceDaily.
Satisfaction in Others’ Misfortune?
The study has interesting implications not only for the personal drive to generate wealth, but also on a macroeconomic scale. It suggests that increasing the overall wealth of a country will not necessarily increase happiness in that society, and in fact could decrease it, as it is only through the disparity of wealth in relation to others, not the actual money earned, that people consider themselves to be satisfied and successful.
Therefore, while people in a wealthy country may see themselves as happier in reference to the world as a whole, within their own country or social circles, an increase in the wealth of others will decrease their level of satisfaction. Maybe this is why they say money is the root of all evil?