Happiness, money & friendships

Happiness, money & friendships

Friends worth their weight in cash

By Tom Kelly and Tristan Swanwick

May 02, 2007 01:00am

But that hasn’t stopped economists having a go.

They have calculated exactly how valuable friends and family can be, with a lot of additions and subtractions.

Seeing them every day is worth the equivalent of an $205,000 pay rise, they say.

Even chatting to neighbours frequently makes us as happy as if we had been handed a $90,000 pay increase.

Getting married is the same as an extra $120,500 in the pay packet (and that’s after the cost of the wedding).

But the downs can be just as dramatic as the ups.

A painful divorce can bring misery equivalent to going $335,000 into debt.

If you suddenly lose your job, you may as well have lost $344,500, even before the actual loss of earnings is taken into account.

That, apparently, is exactly how miserable you will feel.

Those suffering a serious illness would need at least $1.2 million a year for their level of life satisfaction to remain unchanged.

On average, a person earning $24,000 a year who had face-to-face time with friends and loved ones every day was as happy as one earning $230,000 a year who hardly ever saw friends and relatives.

The study, published in the Journal of Socio-Economics, took information from 8000 households across Britain.

Those surveyed were asked to rate the level of happiness certain changes in their life would bring, ranging from pay increases to face-to-face time with friends and loved ones.

“An increase in the level of social involvements is often worth many tens of thousands of pounds a year extra in terms of life satisfaction,” said Nattavudh Powdthavee, of the University of London’s Institute of Education, which carried out the research.

“Actual changes in income, on the other hand, buy very little happiness.”