An American study showed that a person becomes happier if his income is growing. Moreover, over time, this trend is strengthening. In our time, the emotional state of a person depends on money much more than 40 years ago.
The authors of the new, published in the magazine Emotions, interviewed 40 thousand Americans aged 30 years. The data covered the time period from 1972 to 2016. Psychologists not only confirmed that the relationship between income and happiness exists but found that it changed over time: today, money affects the level of happiness much more than 40 years ago.
Scientists divided the respondents into several groups, taking into account their material well-being, educational level, and skin color. In the 1970s, among white Americans, people with different levels of education replied that they were very happy, with the same frequency of 40%. But by 2010, a gap appeared: the number of “very happy” people without higher education decreased throughout the study and in 2016 amounted to only 29%. The number of happy respondents with a degree and a higher income ranged from 40%. African Americans had a different trend: the level of happiness among people without higher education remained stable, while in the second group it was growing steadily. Thus, the slight gap that was observed in the 1970s greatly increased by 2010.
In addition, the authors noted that the level of happiness with increasing income grew constantly, and not to a certain point, as previous studies claimed. Adults who earn more than 160 thousand dollars a year today are happier than those who earn from 115 to 160 thousand.
Psychologists have suggested that such trends could arise for several reasons. Firstly, income inequality has intensified, while less and less people belong to the middle class. Today, the average CEO of the company receives 271 salaries of a typical employee, which is 30 times more than in 1978. Marriage could also affect the results: 40-50 years ago, their level did not practically differ by class, but today people with better education and higher incomes are more likely to start a family, and married people are on average happier than bachelors.
The question of whether material well-being affects a person’s happiness remains controversial. Some studies confirm that emotional state improves with income. For an article published in the PNAS journal, scientists analyzed data from a survey of 450,000 Americans by Gallup. They found that emotional well-being improves with income, but only to a certain level. When earnings exceed 75 thousand dollars a year, it ceases to influence the mood of a person in any way. Scientists came to the conclusion that high income buys satisfaction with life, but not happiness, and the lack of money is associated with both dissatisfaction and low emotional well-being.