After all, it appears that money does buy happiness.

A new study debunks the myth that money doesn’t make you feel better once you reach a particular salary level.

It’s an ancient adage that money can’t buy happiness. Scholars have been attempting to evaluate modern public-opinion research since its inception, with different findings.


Happiness takes many forms

One difficulty is that happiness may take many forms. In a widely cited 2010 paper, Nobel Laureates Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton examined Gallup surveys and discovered that, while Americans’ assessments of life satisfaction increased in lockstep with income, their emotional well-being plateaued at around $75,000 per year, or around $90,000 in today’s dollars.

Emotional well-being was assessed by asking participants about their sentiments the day before and categorizing their replies as positive affect, blue affect (concern and melancholy), or stress.

Around the same time that Kahneman and Deaton were conducting their research, Matthew Killingsworth, a Harvard psychology doctoral student and former software product manager, was working on a measurement tool called Track Your Happiness, an iPhone app that pings users at random intervals and asks about their activities and feelings, often using a sliding scale for answers. One of the first findings, reported in 2010, was that wandering thoughts lead to dissatisfaction.

Killingsworth, who is now a senior fellow at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, has subsequently used his software to assess the relationship between happiness and money. The findings, which were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that while the link between life satisfaction and perceived well-being is stronger for the former, it does not diminish for the latter beyond $75,000 or $90,000. Even for the wealthy, money continues to purchase happiness.


App Happy

Happy Killingsworth, the creator of the app, drew on 1,725,994 experience-sampling reports from 33,391 working individuals in the United States.


Above Average

In 2019, the median household income in the United States was $68,703, which was above average. It was $85,000 among those who took part in Killingsworth’s poll.


It May Not Work for Countries

It’s possible that it won’t work for some countries.
Richard Easterlin, an economist, discovered in 1974 that increased per-capita national incomes did not lead to better reported happiness, a finding that has sparked discussion ever since.

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