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Does money buy happiness?

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Posted: 3 pm ET

Well, it's official, at least according to two recent reports. Money does buy happiness, but it's not the only factor. Keirsey Research, the company that conducted a study of 3,900 individuals, finds that you can't be wealthy in the manner of the elder, reclusive Howard Hughes and expect to be happy – you have to be the life of the party too. Oh, and an engagement ring doesn't hurt either.

Money buys happiness

The higher your income, the happier you are.

In general, the study found that extroverts (74 percent) rate themselves happier than introverts (56 percent.) Those with higher incomes experienced increased levels of joy, with 72 percent of those with income above $75,000 saying they are very or somewhat happy, compared with 59 percent of those with household income below $50,000.

In another survey, economists at the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University reviewed responses from 450,000 Americans in studies conducted in 2008 and 2009 and found that people were happier as their incomes rose, but past $75,000 in earnings, happiness leveled off. Even so, the overall sense of success or well-being still continued to rise as their earnings grew beyond the $75,000 threshold.

Happiness is also something to look forward to as you get older, according to the Keirsey study, except during the peak child-rearing and income-earning ages of 35 to 44. Seems the pressure can put a damper on happiness. Once the kids move out, financial pressure generally lessens, and 73 percent of "empty nesters" say they're happy. Finally, as countless songs and movies will attest, love plays a major role in happiness. Those who are engaged to be married are the happiest (71 percent), and those who are least happy are the couples who are separated but not divorced (48 percent.)

What do you think: Does money bring happiness, and is there a point when you have enough to sustain happiness?

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Jack Tucker
September 10, 2010 at 4:18 pm

What did his wealth buy him?

Judy Martel
September 08, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Excellent point Paul - thanks for writing,

Paul B. Winn
September 07, 2010 at 5:30 pm

What makes you think Howard Hughes was not happy? I was one of his personal secretaries beginning in 1957, and became one of the senior officers of Hughes' companies, retiring in 1989, thirteen years after his death. Hughes said he wanted to become the richest man in the world. He pretty near succeeded in that. He could do whatever he wanted. Everyone assumes that he was unhappy - but I think they could be very wrong. I think Hughes was happy with what he was doing. If not, he could certainly afford to change the situation! Paul B. Winn