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  • Jacob Patterson

Does money equal happiness?

Recently, researchers at Purdue university tried to figure out what level income is correlated with happiness and emotional well-being.

The researchers drew data from a pool of over 1.7 million individual responses about happiness and income from the Gallup Worldwide poll. They found that globally, a familial income of $60,000 - $75,000 is where emotional well-being peaked. In North America, Purdue found that emotional well-being peaked at $65,000 and “a positive life evaluation” peaked at $105,000. These numbers are from 2018, so accounting for inflation, they could be 18% higher ($76,000 for emotional well-being, and $123,900 for life evaluation).

The study also tried to find differences in happiness between men and women, theorizing that it would take a higher income threshold for men to be happy because there is typically a stronger income-happiness link in men. However, the study found the opposite correlation, with women requiring a $100,000 income (compared to $90,000 for men) to have a positive life evaluation.

Next the researchers tried to find a correlation between level of education and a positive life evaluation. They found that as education level rose there was a higher level of income required to meet positive life evaluations ($70,000 for low education, and $115,000 for high education). They theorized that this was probably because those with higher education expect to earn more and interact with/compare themselves to different groups of people. took Purdue’s data, and adjusted the income levels for each state, finding that Hawaii required the highest level of income for a positive life evaluation ($202,965) and that Mississippi required the lowest ($87,465). My home state of Michigan required an average of $95,865 in income for a positive life evaluation.

Story by:

Jacob Patterson

Are you happy?

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Jebb, Andrew & Tay, Louis & Diener, Ed & Oishi, Shigehiro. (2018). Happiness, Income Satiation, and Turning Points Around the World. Nature Human Behavior. 2. 33–38. 10.1038/s41562-017-0277-0.



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