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The premise that “Money buys happiness” is a one that is misconstrued by many in the pursuit of happiness.
The perspective that having money creates happiness has been assessed by many from timely memorial but alas studies have shown that it is relative to the status and class of the individual and also the amount of money which one earns or possesses.
Happiness can be defined as the state of mind or emotions based on a particular circumstance and feeling at a particular time.
There are different interpretations of happiness. Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction or ease of mind.
The well-being of an individual is a reflection of happiness and can be assessed by the subjective and emotional well-being of that individual.
Money can be classified as an asset, property or resources owned by an individual or just currency which can be used to purchase goods and services.
Subjective well-being is defined as a person’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life.
Subjective well-being (SWB) is defined as \’a person\’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life\’ (Diener, Lucas, & Oshi, 2002).
To truly evaluate whether money buys happiness or if there is a correlation between having money and being happy an in-depth study would need to be conducted. Studies have therefore been conducted by researchers who have done surveys to assess the socio-economic standard of living of various persons in society and also evaluating the third world versus a first world living improvement after acquiring a degree of wealth or additional income.
The empirical data from the Gallup research organization using the Gallup- Healthways Well-Being index have shown that an increase in emotional well-being is exponentially related to an increase in income. However, that correlation is directly proportional to the degree of increase and size of the income.
Surveys have been conducted in third world countries like Jamaica where per capita income is much lower than a first world country like the United Kingdom or Britain or the United States of America.
The skilled labor force in third world countries with the requisite professional qualifications has a level of income acquisition and potential to earn and live a comfortable life which contributes to the lifestyle which has been sought after in the betterment of the professional individual’s status and quality of life. However social class and inequalities exist and the potential earning power decreases with the individual’s lack of skill and qualifications. A contradiction, however, exists where an individual from the Rural Area is compared with one from the urban townships. Many persons who have not been exposed to the urban cultures and opulent surroundings of the major cities have expressed happiness and contentment with their station and status in life as they enjoy their routines of farming lifestyles on rural plantations with their “low level” of income.
One can, therefore, surmise that not experiencing another level or change in status can contribute to ones perceived the degree of subjective well-being and happiness. If one is not aware of riches he or she will not be able to recognize poverty.
However, with the technological advancements and the Westernization of most countries, the United States of American and the country’s high standard of living has been portrayed as the pivotal ambivalent expression of what wealth and happiness should be. Therefore many continue to strive to achieve this pinnacle of success in the acquisition of more money to generate the peak of happiness.
The resulting dilemma without insightful perspective is the unavailability of first world opportunities to achieve and acquire significantly more income to obtain the type of wealth and lifestyle portrayed by the Western Media.
Research by the Gallup Healthways well-being index indicates that emotional well-being is directly proportional to the level of income one earns. The researchers theorize that beyond an annual income of $75000 there is no change in emotional well-being and therefore no increase in happiness as a result of any upward movement in income. There is, therefore, a level of satisfaction with the high degree of income but not overwhelming happiness. On the other hand, low-income earners have an exponentially low level of life satisfaction and love emotional well-being.
Having a large income provides the means to afford greater luxuries in life, desired comfort, and fulfillment. It provides status in life, access to greater health care and
Kahneman, D, and A Deaton. (2010). High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107 (38): 16489-16493.
Diener, E. & Biswas-Diener, R. Social Indicators Research (2002)