Rich people are happier than low-income earners but the benefits of wealth appear to taper off after $75,000 a year, according to a Princeton University study gaining global attention Monday.
The new study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) asked about 1,000 randomly selected U.S. residents to assess their emotional well-being each day and also asked them to rate how they felt their life was going in general, according to a statement from Princeton University.
Participants assessed their emotional well-being by determining how much time they spent in positive or negative states the previous day.
They determined their life evaluation by rating their life on a scale of zero to 10.
Based on more than 450,000 responses, the study found as income decreased from $75,000, respondents reported decreasing happiness and increasing sadness and stress.
The pain of life's misfortunes including disease, divorce and being alone, were also made worse by poverty, according to the study's authors, psychologists Professor Angus Deaton and Professor Daniel Kahneman.
’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 experienced happiness nor the road to the relief of unhappiness or stress, although higher income continues to improve individuals’ life evaluations.’
Although the study does not suggest that quality of life will improve with higher incomes, it does indicate that above a certain salary, people's emotional well being was impacted by other factors such as temperament and life circumstances.
Those earning more than $75,000 would not be able to buy happiness but the money would bring a life they people thought was better, the study concluded.