Maybe more money does buy more happiness

That's the conclusion 2 economists have come to. If it's true, why are so many people still so miserable?

By Jonathan Berr May 1, 2013 8:25AM
Wealthy woman (© moodboard/Corbis)The question of whether money brings happiness has been debated by philosophers since the beginning of time. Similarly debated is the related question: Is there a point at which additional wealth brings no additional satisfaction? Now, two economists have declared the answer to the second question: There is no "satiation point."

According to research by Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan, the relationship between well-being and income "does not diminish over time." That leads Stevenson and Wolfers to reject the idea of a point where someone no longer gains pleasure from the accumulation of more goods. This runs counter to a conclusion made famous by economist Richard Easterlin that increasing average income did not raise average happiness. It's known as the "Easterlin paradox."

Of course, the new research still leaves many questions unanswered. For instance, if money really does make people happy, they have a funny way of showing it. Depression affects about 6.4% of adults. According to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, more than one in 10 Americans age 12 or older takes antidepressants. An astounding 254 million prescriptions were written for them, at an expense of some $10 billion.

Many people who suffer from depression aren't treated. And others "treat" their illnesses by medicating themselves. An estimated 18 million adults in the U.S. abuse alcohol. An additional 22 million or so admit to using illegal drugs. Although many people with substance abuse problems are poor, not all lack money -- and many have more money than they know what to do with. A quick glance at celebrity news site proves that. 

This raises another interesting question: Are people who tell economists that they're happy telling their doctors something different?

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.

More on moneyNOW

May 1, 2013 10:25AM

I believe money can make you happier because it allows you to buy your way out of problems:

Don't like your neighbor?  It's easy to move if you have a nice kitty full of money (and if you have money, you'll likely have good credit, as well).

Got a bunch of bills coming in?  Easy to pay the bills if you have money--so no money stress.

Hate your significant other?  Easy to pack up and move on--money allows it more easily than being broke.

Despise housework, yard work, buys you someone else's time to do the chores.

Money can buy your way out of lots of life's annoyances, so to me, that equals more happiness.

May 1, 2013 10:09AM
Happiness is NOT having what you want, whenever you want it, however you want it, as many times as you want it. 

The true secret to happiness is wanting what you already have.  The sooner you learn this concept, the quicker you'll get rid of all the clutter in your life that you don't really want or need, and the happier you'll be.  This is true for material possessions, relationships, employment, living situations, etc...
May 1, 2013 1:03PM

Money Can't buy happiness but not having money can sure make you unhappy. It is hard to be happy when you are not able to feed yourself or your family. 
May 1, 2013 10:24AM

This is what I figured out years ago when I was 18:

The only thing you need to have it made is the belief that you have it made.

It's all attitude.

Happiness has nothing to do with money.

May 1, 2013 1:00PM
Money does not equal happiness but sure make happiness easier to achieve
To me, money itself does not bring happiness, but having enough to meet your bills and to build a nice buffer pad of a savings account to meet unexpected needs, relieves a heck a lot of the anxiety and stress in many aspects of life.
May 1, 2013 11:44AM
Too much or not enough of anything is not good.
May 1, 2013 12:47PM
If the government would stop stealing so much money from me, I could find out.
May 1, 2013 11:28AM
America has been led to believe that yes money is God. and people act accordingly. screw, cheat, rob, conspire. All in the name of that almighty buck to which I'm going to buy everything and be happy. 
May 1, 2013 11:02AM

I don't think money bought much happiness here. Kentucky-- the Mitch McConnell Endless Ranting and Filabuster State. A FIVE year old.


A 5-year-old Kentucky boy who received a .22-caliber rifle as a gift accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister on Tuesday, according to state police.

The toddler was shot at just after 1 p.m. local time on Lawson’s Bottom Road in Cumberland County, police said. The girl was taken to Cumberland County Hospital and later pronounced dead.

The mother of the two children was at home at the time of the shooting, Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the local newspaper, the Lexington Herald-Leader. He said that the family did not realize that there was a shell inside the gun. The firearm was kept in a corner, he said.

“It’s a Crickett,” Cumberland County Coroner Gary White told the paper. “It’s a little rifle for a kid.”

“The little boy’s used to shooting the little gun,” White said.

The shooting occurred while the boy was playing with the rifle, police said. It was “just one of those crazy accidents,” White told the Herald-Leader.

May 1, 2013 12:53PM
Economists want the economy to do well, so maybe telling us that money buys happiness will get us to spend money to spur the economy along.  I think sometimes happiness is confused with piece of mind.  It's nice to know that the bills will always be paid, that debt will not be a problem, to get that juiced feeling of buying a new car or new gadget, albeit a short lived juiced feeling at that.  In the end that's not happiness, you can only get that from your relationships with people.
May 1, 2013 10:46AM
Another bad article.  Depresion is caused by a chimcle imbalane in the brain.  It has nothing to do with money.  Boy are you an idiot.
May 1, 2013 11:57AM
I took a 50% pay cut a few years ago, and I'm still just as happy as I was back then.  Maybe a little more stressed, but still happy.  Life is what you make of it I guess.
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

Trending NOW

What’s this?


[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More