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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

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