Why money doesn’t buy happiness

Why money doesn’t buy happiness

More than ever, we are defined by how much we earn. But does a higher salary make us more content? Or is it enough just to be paid more than our colleagues? With the gulf between top earners and the lowest paid at its widest ever, we find out what is the optimum salary…

In all societies,” wrote James Madison, a founding father of the United States, “distinctions are various and unavoidable.” Human beings have always been acutely conscious of status and its signifiers. In Sparta, places in the pecking order _ã_ for men, at least _ã_ were determined by success in mortal combat; in Georgian England, ranking was by gentility and learning. Today, the principal badge of status is money, and the things money visibly buys.

Britons, like our American cousins, increasingly say we “make” a certain amount in salary, as if wages were a physical manifestation of labour. Even though most salaries are now paid electronically, the idea of the “wage packet” retains its grip on our imagination. I earn, therefore I am.

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