New Study Finds Having More Money Does In Fact Lead To More Happiness

by : Cameron Frew on : 07 Jul 2020 11:40

It’s an adage long trotted out to the lower classes: ‘Money can’t buy you happiness.’ Well, according to a recent study, it appears it actually can.

Let’s recall that quote from The Wolf of Wall Street: ‘There’s no nobility in poverty. I’ve been a poor man, and I’ve been a rich man. And I choose rich every f*cking time.’ Elite excess is chastised by some, coveted by many, and somehow evanglised and cautioned by those holding the folding.


That’s the consequence of an overwhelming capitalist society, I suppose. It’s like Louis Winthorpe III said: ‘I had the most absurd nightmare. I was poor and no one liked me.’ While it’d be lovely to write off wealth as a source of joy, the sad fact remains that cash is a quick emotional fix.

Trading PlacesParamount Pictures

‘The Expanding Class Divide in Happiness in the United States 1972-2016’, published in the journal Emotion, looked at the correlation between socioeconomic status – which looks at income, education and occupation – and happiness level of 44,198 adults aged 30 and over.

Jean Twenge, the study’s lead author, told Business Insider


We don’t find a tapering off of happiness at the top of the income scale – more money steadily brings more happiness. It’s also possible that the tapering effect is an outdated finding, as the link between money and happiness has grown.

Breaking Bad MoneyAMC

Twenge also told Fox Business: ‘The happiness-income link has gotten steadily stronger over the decades – happiness is more strongly related to income now than it was in the 1970s and 1980s. So money buys happiness more now than in the past.’

Back in 2010, a Princeton University study posited that once a person passes an income of $75,000, the correlation between money and happiness no longer becomes relevant. However, Twenge reports that ‘happiness kept going up with more income, even at higher income levels’.


In this report, there is a definite class divide: across the time period, the happiness of White people with lower socioeconomic status has declined, while those with a stronger financial position have remained steadily content. For Black people with a higher socieconomic status, their happiness has also increased.

Twenge added: 

We can’t say for sure, but the increase in happiness for Black Americans since 1972 could be due to gains in education and opportunities over this time. It will be interesting to see if this trend holds true during the Trump presidency and the pandemic; it’s possible Black Americans’ happiness will decrease after 2016.


On that note, four words come to mind: show me the money!

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Life, finance, Finances, Money, Now, Research, US


Emotion and 2 others
  1. Emotion

    The Expanding Class Divide in Happiness in the United States 1972-2016

  2. Business Insider

    There's a direct link between income and happiness, and lower-income white Americans have gotten sadder since the 1970s — setting up Gen Z for unhappy times to come

  3. Fox Business

    Money can actually buy happiness, study suggests