In your feel-good Labor Day science column: A new study from Princeton University tells 14.9 million unemployed Americans what they already know—money can buy you happiness! Oh, you don't make $75,000 a year? Just kill yourself then.
The study, led by a Princeton economist named Angus Deaton, surveyed 450,000 Americans in 2008 and 2009 to measure their day-to-day happiness and overall life satisfaction.
According to Deaton, happiness increases with income but the effect levels out at $75,000. Even then, while your daily mood won't improve with further pay raises, people whose incomes rise beyond $75,000 will continue to feel an increased "overall sense of success and well-being."
"Giving people more income beyond 75K is not going to do much for their daily mood ... but it is going to make them feel they have a better life," Deaton said in an interview.
Not surprisingly, someone who moves from a $100,000-a-year job to one paying $200,000 realizes an improved sense of success. That doesn't necessarily mean they are happier day to day, Deaton said.
The results were similar for other measures, Deaton said. For example, people were really happier on weekends, but their deeper sense of well-being didn't change.
So what happens if you're not hitting that $75,000 sweet spot? "Stuff is so in your face it's hard to be happy," Deaton says. "It interferes with your enjoyment."
Ain't that the truth.
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