Can Money Buy Happiness?
Money Boosts Life Satisfaction, but Not Necessarily Positive Feelings, Study Finds
Poverty Does Not Mean Unhappiness
Diener says Danes are happier mainly for two reasons -- social trust is very high, and corruption is considered low. Also, people in Denmark are more satisfied with “their economic safety net” than people in the U.S., Diener says.
Also, factors that influence feelings of well-being vary from country to country, he says.
Diener says the study “clearly shows” that there is no single prescription for happiness.
Money, he says, no more guarantees happiness than cigarette smoking guarantees cancer, but they increase the chances.
In studies of poor people, researchers find that some are happy, in part because their needs are met.
“We have interviewed happy people in the slums of Calcutta and they can be relatively happy, although dissatisfied with their poverty, because they are rich in family and friends,” he says.
Money makes a bigger difference to happiness among poor people, but it takes a lot more additional money to change the happiness of a person who is well-off, Diener says.
Happiness by Country
Here is a list of rankings of selected nations on types of prosperity, out of 89:
Nation GDP/Capita Positive Feelings
United States 1 26
Denmark 5 7
Netherlands 7 3
Japan 14 44
Italy 18 67
Israel 20 61
New Zealand 22 1
South Korea 24 58
South Africa 35 29
Russia 36 79
Mexico 39 17
Costa Rica 41 4
Indonesia 59 24
India 61 63
Ghana 68 68
Nepal 76 50
Sierra Leone 87 87
Tanzania 89 52