A study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin would seem to confirm what many take for granted: despite the common adage, money can indeed buy happiness . . . at least if you have a million dollars. Grant E. Donnelly, a doctoral candidate in the Marketing Unit at Harvard Business School, found that the more wealth that people have corollated with greater happiness. There is however a difference in happiness between those near the bottom and near the top of wealthiest individuals. Can you guess who was happier among the millionaires?
The study also found that making the million dollars leaves you happier than just inheriting it.
Here is the summary:
Two samples of more than 4,000 millionaires reveal two primary findings: First, only at high levels of wealth—in excess of US$8 million (Study 1) and US$10 million (Study 2)—are wealthier millionaires happier than millionaires with lower levels of wealth, though these differences are modest in magnitude. Second, controlling for total wealth, millionaires who have earned their wealth are moderately happier than those who inherited it. Taken together, these results suggest that, among millionaires, wealth may be likely to pay off in greater happiness only at very high levels of wealth, and when that wealth was earned rather than inherited.
The study, “The Amount and Source of Millionaires’ Wealth (Moderately) Predict Their Happiness“, was co-authored by Tianyi Zheng, Emily Haisley, and Michael I. Norton.
While my father was an architect and did not empirical research of his own, he only gave me one piece of advice when I set out to be a page in Washington at age 14: “son, you can marry into more money in five minutes than you can make in a lifetime.”
While that will not apparently make you the happiest of millionaires, it clearly is worth a shot.