Skip to content

    Health & Balance

    Font Size

    Money Can Only Buy So Much Happiness

    Study Suggests There Are Limits to Money's Impact on Your Daily Emotions
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Sept. 7, 2010 -- Money may shape your outlook on life, but it can only buy so much when it comes to your daily happiness.

    "More money does not necessarily buy more happiness," write researcher Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University and colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Researchers found income can positively affect how you view your life, but it doesn't necessarily affect your daily emotions. Other factors, such as health, caregiving status, loneliness, and smoking are more likely to color your daily emotional state.

    The study, based on more than 450,000 responses to a daily survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, showed that how people rated the quality of their lives -- on a scale from one to 10 -- rose steadily with annual income levels.

    But the quality of people's daily emotional experiences leveled off at a certain stable income level, suggesting that there may be a salary cap on money's ability to buy happiness.

    "Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals' ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure," write the researchers. Participants' emotional well-being was measured according to their responses to questions about emotional experiences on the previous day.

    The results showed that as incomes decreased below $75,000, the participants reported less happiness and increasing sadness and stress.

    Researchers also found that the emotional pain of unfortunate events, such as divorce, disease, or being alone, was exacerbated by poverty.

    Today on WebMD

    woman in yoga class
    6 health benefits of yoga.
    beautiful girl lying down of grass
    10 relaxation techniques to try.
    mature woman with glass of water
    Do you really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
    coffee beans in shape of mug
    Get the facts.
    Take your medication
    Hand appearing to hold the sun
    Hungover man
    Welcome mat and wellington boots
    Woman worn out on couch
    Happy and sad faces
    Fingertip with string tied in a bow
    laughing family