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Does Money = Happiness?

Popular studies say yes, but is this no longer the case?


Happiness is a difficult word to define as everyone has their own viewpoints on happiness based on past experiences and actions. Generally people would say money does buy happiness because with more money you could buy that new phone you wanted or go on that holiday you couldn't afford before. The age old question is 'Does money buy you happiness?' and the answer for a long time has more than often been 'yes'. However, recently there has been an extent to this answer that has been discovered.


The most popular theory on this topic is that money does buy happiness. This comes from a study conducted by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton (2010) The study found that the wellbeing and general happiness of a person does increase with the amount of money they have. However, the rate of their increase in happiness shows that as income rises, the slower and slower the person's happiness increases alongside it eventually to the point where happiness stops altogether. This is no doubt because there is only a limited amount of things that a person can spend their money on and there is only so much a person needs before they are satisfied. This does vary from person to person but the result is still the same and everyone's needs and wants are limited.


Also, when we actively need money for survival, earning money does satisfy people because they are people to afford basic needs such as food, shelter, and heating. Even when we go beyond that point, to the point where we are what's known as being 'financially secure', and can afford other luxury items on top of these basic needs money can still buy happiness but this is still to an extent.


Another argument has arisen that the general happiness of a person with a high income is dependant on what it is they choose to spend it on. There is some evidence that spending money on other people for their benefit, otherwise known as prosocial spending, does improve the spender's happiness. Spending on things such as charity has been proven to improve one's emotional state has they feel they have done something that is morally correct.


There are those however, that argue that money cannot buy someone happiness in life. Money is a basic need in life in order to purchase everyday necessities. It can be agreed that having extra money can be used to purchase expensive and luxury goods from high value brand names but the satisfaction gained from purchasing those goods is limited. Money is needed by everyone, but it is not needed to find happiness.


The question is if money doesn't buy you happiness, what does?


Many people believe that happiness comes from a number of things. In general, happiness is not determined by the amount in someone's bank account but the people they have in their life. Money is seen as one of the most powerful things in the world because everyone aspires to earn as much money as they possibly can. But money can't buy friends and family or the time you spend with them.


This however, is contradicted by many studies. For example a study in the Huffington found that people with more money tend to be better respected by those around them compared to how much people with less money are respected. People often respect those with more money because it shows that they have worked a lot harder than other to earn that money, especially people who earned that money themselves from their own work rather than people who have a large amount of money from their family or inheritance.


Overall, it is strongly believed that money doesn't buy happiness because the general use of money is to purchase immaterial goods that only result in limited amounts of satisfaction. Money cannot buy people around you and the experiences you gain with those people and it cannot buy you everything that makes life easier. People can buy luxury houses and designer clothing to make themselves feel good but in reality those things server the same general purpose as an average sized house and clothes that come from a cheap retailer, it all just depends on perspective and what you see as important.



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