The happiness – money debate continues

The happiness – money debate continues

Money tilts the happiness scale

Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, April 04, 2008

The old bromide that money can’t buy happiness is accepted as conventional wisdom and researchers have bent over backwards trying to prove that it’s true. But too often the surveys and studies measure the wrong things.

Dozens of studies have been published that purport to demonstrate people with above average incomes are no happier than those who earn less. The Worldwatch Institute, in its State of the World 2004, reported that only a third of Americans described themselves as very happy, the same level as in 1957 when they were half as rich. Forbes Magazine declared that a higher income doesn’t have a big impact on long-term satisfaction, citing surveys that found the same level of happiness between very rich individuals on the Forbes 400 list and the Masai herdsmen of East Africa.

But everything changes when studies focus on the combination of income, net worth and consumption rather than income alone, and define happiness as being in a pleasant or desirable state, rather than an ethereal emotion.

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