And it takes earnings of about $95,000 per year to afford it, a new study says
There’s plenty that money can buy you — happiness included.
The worldwide average salary you need to make to achieve personal satisfaction in your life is $95,000 per year, according to a new study from researchers at Purdue University published in the journal “Nature.”
If your primary focus is just paying your bills and having enough to stay afloat, you’ll need just $60,000 to $75,000 per year; but if you’re more concerned with keeping up with people on social media, are prone to comparing your life to others, and have bigger spending aspirations, that number shoots up to $95,000 per year.
“Happiness is a very complex thing,” said lead researcher Andrew Jebb, a Ph(D) student at Purdue. “There are many parts of the equation, but income and money certainly is one of them, and it would be impossible to be totally happy if you are starving or living in a destitute way.”
Asked if money can actually buy you happiness, Jebb admitted: “Yes, but with limits. The primary one, I would say, would be social relationships and having long-lasting and meaningful and deep social relationships.” In other words, money can buy you plenty of comforts and luxuries — but earning enough of it to afford them could take a toll on your relationships with loved ones.
Jebb and his research partners gathered their conclusions by reviewing Gallup surveys of 1.7 million people worldwide, who ranked the state of their satisfaction with their lives on a scale of one to 10 and shared the amount of money they made.
While the $60,000–$75,000 and $95,000 salaries were global averages, the research went on to point out how much you’d need to be happy elsewhere in the world, too. In the United States and Canada, it’s $105,000 a year; in Western Europe, it’s $100,000 per year. Meanwhile in Australia — the country where happiness is the most “expensive” — it’s as much as $125,000, and as little as $35,000 in Latin America and the Caribbean, where satisfaction is the most affordable.
That said, there comes a point when making more money stops making you happy — and earning too much could actually be chipping away at your mental state. Indeed, after earners hit those peak salary rates — $105,000 in the US, for example — their happiness starts to slide downward a little, a sign that earning exorbitant wealth can bring its downsides, too.
“We have basic needs that we need to fill, and feeling like you have a stable residence is considered a basic need, a roof over your head or a stable place to sleep. Having food and even emotional needs are considered a basic need in life. When we get beyond that, and when we fill those… transferring from basic needs to optional can bring about added distress,” like a college student having to pick between multiple Ivy League universities, said psychologist Jessy-Warner Cohen of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.
Previous studies have also explored how much money it would take to buy happiness, and the numbers are similar to what the Purdue researchers found. A Princeton study from 2010 found that emotional well-being rises with increases in income, but that the biggest gains came in earning up to $75,000; beyond that, the increases were marginal. And in a 2014 survey by CNN, 51% of respondents said they’d be perfectly happy living off of less than $100,000 per year.
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