Can You Buy Happiness Essay Introduction

Scientific evidence has shown us that in fact, money DOES buy happiness, but only to a certain point. 

A famous Princeton study (linked below) found that emotional wellbeing increases steadily with income, up to around $75,000 per year. After that point, income does not have much of an effect on emotional wellbeing. 

Research has previously shown that low income families are more likely to divorce than higher income families (see NCFR link), and that lower income couples were more likely to have their relationship negatively influenced by money problems. Together, these facts suggest that conflict within low income families can often relate to money problems, leading to unhappiness and divorce at higher rates than high income families. 

The Princeton study has found that low income families also experience more emotional distress from unfortunate life events (which include poor health and loneliness as well as divorce) than do higher income families. 

With that said, it seems clear that $75,000 for a family isn't really all that much money. Two parents earning just over $37,000 per year will earn that much (which works out to around $18 per hour per parent working 40 hours per week). Clearly, though, a single parent earning that salary will earn far below the 'happiness threshold', and will suffer from many of the financial troubles experienced by low income families. 

Essentially, I think the data shows us that money can buy happiness if you are in poverty or struggling with money. In this case, the money will eliminate several sources of unhappiness, such as stress and marital conflict over finances. But once you have a comfortable family income: enough to pay for all your fixed expenses (such as rent/mortgage, bills, and groceries) and maybe a few luxuries (movie tickets), money doesn't really have much of an impact on happiness. 

Can Money Buy Happiness?

Money is a need common to everyone in this world. Accumulated cash is a symbol of wealth which thereafter translates to success, something many people wish for. However, there is this question that most people would not have a definite answer for, Can wellness buy well-being? This is a controversial topic that can be looked at from different angles. Happiness is more than just positive emotions. It is a state of well being characterized by contentment and life that has a sense of meaning. Emily Williams, a business coach says “money and satisfaction go hand in hand because of the freedom of choice money brings.” This is true, but on the other hand there is so much in life that a price tag can’t be attached to.

Researches have been conducted by different institutions to support the notion that money can buy happiness. An example is Case Western university’s research carried out in 2016 whereby researchers identified that every dollar makes a significant difference in reducing stress for people in the 20th percentile of household income ($27000). The returns fall off as income increases specifically in the 80th percentile ($113000) and disappear around $200000 (stefanie o’connell, 2017) . So can money buy happiness? Yes it can. An increase in salary can improve wellbeing by reducing stress and satisfying basic needs efficiently. Imagine how a parent feels when he or she has a sick child at home, a hungry child or a homeless family in the streets just because there is no cash? Devastating, right? Being able to cater for oneself and loved ones comfortably is a source of joy and contentment.

Money not only gives people the opportunity to provide for themselves and others but also puts one on the map. In every society there are personalities that are recognized, not for what they have done, but for their purchasing power. Wealthy people easily gain social, political and economic goodwill. As the saying goes, “birds of the same feather flock together”, these people will mostly relate with those of their economic class therefore creating networks and more opportunities of getting more wealth. Being wealthy can make you lead a lavish lifestyle, drive luxury cars, own mansions and many other properties and still help the lowly in the society by creating employment opportunities for them or just by charity work.

George Lorimer says “It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things money can’t buy”. This says it all, money is not an assurance of happiness. In this century, there are chronic diseases that have been graded as ‘diseases of the rich’. High blood pressure, obesity, heart diseases, diabetes and cancer are just a few. It is very unfortunate how many people earn a lot of money and spend their retirement period in hospital beds. What is the need therefore of having a lot of money that you will not enjoy at your old age? It is very devastating to see people use drugs to sleep, to keep active during the day and to survive generally just because of their physical conditions. Even the wealthiest of people with the best medical covers cannot be cured of some diseases neither can they escape death.

Money is not a guarantee that people will love and appreciate you. It might bring social goodwill, yes, but not everyone will have you in good faith. Many would want to take advantage of what you can offer, others would even try to steal or rob from you and finding true friends is a very tough task. Maintaining family relationships can be very difficult and with time one can find himself or herself alone. There is definitely no happiness in this state.

Money is important in everyone’s life. But when people realize that there is more to life than just the things money can buy, the world would definitely be a better place.


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