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Health & Balance

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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

1 | 2

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