Can money buy you happiness?
Thanks an often asked question and the answer tends to depend on who you ask.
But today’s infographic approaches this question from a data-driven perspective, and it provides one potential solution: money does buy some happiness, but only to a limited extent.
Before you check out the chart here’s some background…
MONEY AND HAPPINESS
First, a thinking exercise.
Let’s say you have two hypothetical people: one of them is named Beff Jezos and he’s a billionaire, and the other is named Jill Smith and she has a more average net worth.
Who do you think would be happiest if their wealth was instantly doubled?
Beff might be happy that he’s got more in the bank, but materially his life is unlikely to change much — after all, he’s a billionaire.
On the flip side, Jill also has more in the bank and is likely able to use those additional resources to provide better opportunities for her family, get out of debt, or improve her work-life balance.
These resources translate to real changes for Jill, potentially increasing her level of satisfaction with life.
Just like these hypotheticals, the data tells a similar story when we look at countries, which is what the World Happiness Report does.
While Norway tops the global happiness rankings for 2017, interestingly Australia ranked equal 9th in the world scale of Happiness
Another interesting finding ( at least it was intersting for me) was that…
People in China are no happier than 25 years ago
The report contrasts the sharply growing per capita income in China over the past 25 years with life evaluations that fell steadily from 1990 till about 2005, recovering since then to about the 1990 levels.
The report attribute the dropping happiness in the first part of the period to rising unemployment and fraying social safety nets, with recoveries since in both.
Happiness has fallen in America
The USA is a story of reduced happiness. In 2007 the USA ranked 3rd among the OECD countries; in 2016 it came 19th.
The reasons are declining social support and increased corruption and it is these same factors that explain why the Nordic countries do so much better and topped this year’s happiness list.
The following chart looks at the relationship between GDP per capita (PPP) and the self-reported levels of happiness of each country.
According to the numbers, the relationship between money and happiness is strong early on for countries. Then later, when material elements of Maslow’s hierarchy are met, the relationship gets harder to predict.
In general, this means that as a country’s wealth increases from $10k to $20k per person, it will likely slide up the happiness scale as well.
For a double from $30k to $60k, the relationship still holds – but it tends to have far more variance.
This variance is where things get interesting.
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