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Researchers Say Happiness Costs $75K 772

Posted by samzenpus
from the money-fixes-everything dept.
SpuriousLogic writes "Does happiness rise with income? In one of the more scientific attempts to answer that question, researchers from Princeton have put a price on happiness. It's about $75,000 in income a year. They found that not having enough money definitely causes emotional pain and unhappiness. But, after reaching an income of about $75,000 per year, money can't buy happiness. More money can, however, help people view their lives as successful or better. The study found that people's evaluations of their lives improved steadily with annual income. But the quality of their everyday experiences — their feelings — did not improve above an income of $75,000 a year. As income decreased from $75,000, people reported decreasing happiness and increasing sadness, as well as stress. The study found that being divorced, being sick and other painful experiences have worse effects on a poor person than on a wealthier one."

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Researchers Say Happiness Costs $75K

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Money does not buy happiness, but lack of money makes a huge down payment on unhappiness.

    • by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @01:08PM (#33499964) Journal

      Money can't buy you happiness, but poverty can't buy you shit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by butalearner (1235200)

      Or to use the words of the immortal Dean Martin:

      Ask the rich man he'll confess,
      Money can't buy happiness.
      Ask the poor man he don't doubt,
      But he'd rather be miserable with than without.

  • by elucido (870205) * on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:48AM (#33498968)

    1. Money cannot buy happiness, it can buy security.
    2. When your loved ones are secure you are less stressed.
    3. When you are less stressed you can focus more on being happy.

    How much money you need is actually determined by how many people you have to care for. If you don't have any children, or a spouse, $75,000 is about right. If you have children, a wife, and a big family, $75,000 is a drop in the bucket and you'd probably need twice that much to provide for children and take care of parents or grand parents into old age.

    I don't know about you but thats my formula. The amount is determined by the amount of people I have to provide security for and the overall security expense, along with whatever the expense is for my personal wellbeing. It's ultimately about people, unless you're a greedy anti-social.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am a slashdotter and don't have any loved ones you insensitive clod!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Score Whore (32328)

        First you must love yourself...

        When that gets boring, take some of that $75,000 and hire a hooker or two.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shentino (1139071)

      I get only $8088 a year in income from SSI.

      Of course, I also get food stamps, and make use of Section 8 rent subsidies, so my effective income is probably a little higher.

      I'm still well below the 75k mark, but then again I'm not paying in sweat to get it either.

      I even have $1400 in credit available, thanks to a couple of credit cards.

      I'm fairly happy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elucido (870205) *

        I get only $8088 a year in income from SSI.

        Of course, I also get food stamps, and make use of Section 8 rent subsidies, so my effective income is probably a little higher.

        I'm still well below the 75k mark, but then again I'm not paying in sweat to get it either.

        I even have $1400 in credit available, thanks to a couple of credit cards.

        I'm fairly happy.

        Some people are happy living in prison, most aren't. What you don't mention is how old you are. If you are 80 years old and can't do anything then living like that is not going to make you miserable but if you are in the prime of your life and you can't do anything, living on SSI is a virtual prison.

        Unless of course you don't want to do anything?

        Anyway I assume your post in a joke but if it's not then please describe what in your life is making you happy? Do you have kids? a spouse? a family? How on earth d

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by shentino (1139071)

          I have almost unlimited free time.

          I also happen to be a 25 year old geek with too much time on his hands. Besides reading slashdot, I also work on a few projects at SF.

          • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:48PM (#33499704)
            Are you disabled? Is there anything legitimately keeping you from getting a job? If not, what makes you think you have the right to live off of everyone's taxes?
            • by elucido (870205) * on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @01:35PM (#33500342)

              Are you disabled? Is there anything legitimately keeping you from getting a job? If not, what makes you think you have the right to live off of everyone's taxes?

              It's simple. Say he does get a job selling drugs or as a prostitute, your tax dollars would then pay the vice cop who would arrest him, the judge who would handle the trial, his lawyer, the prosecutor, and then you the juror would have to waste your time hearing the case and making a decision.

              It seems cheaper to just pay for SSI, the alternatives if we want there to be an alternative is to have full employment and how would you want to guarantee that everyone who wants a job can have one? It's not as simple of a problem of "But my tax dollars pay for these people to live for free!", in reality your tax dollars go to waste on a lot more unimportant stuff than this, and the tax dollars you spend on this lowers the crime rate and actually saves you money long term, unless you want the alternative where we legalize all the stuff that is currently illegal for cosmetic concerns, like drugs, prostitution, gambling and stuff of this sort.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by trentblase (717954)
              Well, if what he says is true (25 years old and living on SSI) then yes, he is either (1) totally or partially blind; or (2) has a medical condition that keeps him from working and is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

              I guess (3) has faked one ore more of the above -- could also be true.
            • by shentino (1139071)

              I have autistic disorder.

              A licensed psychologist diagnosed me. So either I'm a nutcase, or I'm a damn good bullshitter.

              And if I was, I'd probably be working in a bank or a brokerage with the other greedy fuckers that brought our country down to its knees during the whole subprime mortgage fiasco.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dave562 (969951)

        How old are you? If you're over 55, congratulations. If you're under 55, get a job you lazy bastard.

        I used to ride the Metro Blue Line to work. I saw so many young, otherwise healthy people on the train with nothing but free time who were complaining about how SSI wasn't enough and how they hate their free Section 8 housing. But they would never go get a job, because then they'd lose "their benefits". For way too many people in this society, SSI, SDI and Section 8 are a free ticket to a life paid for b

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by XanC (644172)

        So you're making others pay in sweat in order to finance your lifestyle? You're living on the dole, and that makes you happy? Well done, sir. You are a HUGE part of the problem, but as long as YOU'RE happy, that makes everything okay.

  • cheap shot (Score:5, Funny)

    by emkyooess (1551693) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:49AM (#33498982)

    Tomorrow's headline: "Democrats call for a new $75,000 living wage. Supported by research."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by elucido (870205) *

      Impossible. Happiness is something you should have the liberty to pursue. It's not something which should be given to people by the government. The government should provide ample opportunity and resources for people to have the option to fight or compete for happiness.

      The reality we have today is that for a majority of people unless you are born to make $75k no amount of hard work or effort will allow you to reach that goal unless you break the law. It should not be so difficult for ordinary people to make

    • by Plastic Pencil (1258364) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:54AM (#33499050)
      Republicans respond and after a year and a half worth of debate and Glenn Beck's tears, Obama and Democrats settle for $7,500, despite miraculously retaining a majority in the House and Senate.
      • by MarcQuadra (129430) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:09PM (#33499212)

        More likely that all sorts of white upper-middle class trustifarian college students start demanding $75,000 for everyone, to the chant of "Happiness is a human right!"

        Then come the 'experts' at House and Senate hearings:

        "Over 240 million Americans go to bed every night without Happiness. Americans are unhappy right here on our own shores! We must end Sadness! When I was in college, I was unhappy. After my accident, I got a $75,000 settlement from the university, and from then on I was happy. I come here to tell you that if every American had the same $75K opportunity I did, we could end Sadness forever."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by spun (1352)

      Well, according to this research, taking money away from those making quite a bit more than $75k per year and giving it to those making quite a bit less would raise total happiness. Let's reverse the policies of upwards wealth transfer put into place by the wealthy. Let's go back to the 90% marginal tax rate on the highest earners we had in the 50s. The system worked better for them, they should pay more because they got more from society. Let's stop letting the rich set policy that benefits them at our exp

      • Re:cheap shot (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ArcherB (796902) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:51PM (#33499756) Journal

        Remember, taking back what was stolen from you is not stealing.

        With that attitude, you can justify any action. Why steal it back? Why not just arrest these fat cats and lock them in prison? We could call our local sheriff's department and have them lock up any CEO or entrepreneur that makes... what? over 250K/yr? That should be fair, right. After all, anyone who is wealthy stole the money anyway, right? No one making that much money could have actually earned through sacrifice, hard work, risk taking and brilliant thinking.

        Of course, we could take seize all their assets and redistribute them to whoever they stole it from. Just curious though, who would get Michael Dell's assets? Seems to me that the money Dell has made came from people who willingly purchased products and services that Dell provides. Stealing is taking stuff away from people against their will. Who did Dell steal from? Other than the obvious thieves, Enron execs, Bernie Madhoff, etc, who have the founders of the companies that make stuff we all use, like iPods, software, dishwashers stolen from? How do we get the money back to the victims if we don't know who they are?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          With that attitude, you can justify any action. Why steal it back? Why not just arrest these fat cats and lock them in prison? We could call our local sheriff's department and have them lock up any CEO or entrepreneur that makes... what? over 250K/yr? That should be fair, right. After all, anyone who is wealthy stole the money anyway, right? No one making that much money could have actually earned through sacrifice, hard work, risk taking and brilliant thinking.

          If Libertarians can say that even minimal con

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by spun (1352)

          It is not stealing to take back stolen property. The rich have bought themselves laws that transferred wealth to them, well, we can vote ourselves laws that transfer it back to us.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ArcherB (796902)

            It is not stealing to take back stolen property. The rich have bought themselves laws that transferred wealth to them, well, we can vote ourselves laws that transfer it back to us.

            OK, what laws has Michael Dell purchased to get himself rich? Remember, he started out making computers out of his UT dorm room. Steve Jobs started out in his garage. How did Jobs and Wozniak afford to buy off the US Senate? How did the rich guys buy laws BEFORE the wealth was transferred to them? I think you need to rework you logic. As it stands, it's flawed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TheSync (5291)

        Let's go back to the 90% marginal tax rate on the highest earners we had in the 50s. The system worked better for them, they should pay more because they got more from society.

        I decided to do some research on that, and found: [yalelawjournal.org]

        Brownlee helpfully provides estimates of the historical effective rates for the richest one percent of households as well. He indicates that effective rates during the high marginal rate years of World War I reached 15.8%, and that during the high marginal rate years of World War II the

  • I would say that $75,000 is a good estimate because the more money you have the less trust you usually have along with it. At $75,000 you have just enough money to maintain your friends, and family relations, and to be able to trust your spouse. When you start to get over this amount your friendships may begin to change as some friends will start to envy you or get jealous, you may not be able to trust your family members anymore or your spouse, as it gets into the $100,000+ and $200,000+ and $500,000+ even

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jgr123 (1730206)
      Have you ever even earned that amount or are you just pulling things out of your ass?
    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Why did you posts two semi long threads in a matter of 2 minutes?

    • Very good post. People who suddenly come to have a lot of money (e.g. winning the lottery) are often surprised when their life takes a turn for the worse after the initial glow has worn off.

    • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:16PM (#33499292)

      This got rated up to 4? People, please apply for jobs at the CIA, you pass the paranoia qualification.

      Here's a helpful tip when talking to friends who maybe don't have the same number of digits in their bank account balances: shut the fuck up and do not discuss your income. Holy shit, how hard is it. I've talked with friends about their favorite sexual positions with their wives, but talking about income? Absolutely fucking off limits.

      By the way, life gets better once you finally graduate high school. Just thought I'd throw out some advice which is relevant to you.

  • Where do you live? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:51AM (#33498996)

    The amount of money that you require to be "happy" depends on where you live and what the lifestyles of the people around you are.
     
    Where you live sets the baseline cost of living, and visible lifestyles determine your expectations.

  • 75 000 USD/year != 75 000 USD

    Also, what is that uninformative picture of coins in a hand doing there? It does not add anything! This is just as bad as a newspaper article!

  • The lack of money is the root of all evil?
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:53AM (#33499024)
    What I have observed is that a happy income is double your present income. I have seen this with people earning less than 20k and more than a million.
    75K would be about double the national average.
    Also this 75k number would completely depend on where you are. 75K is poverty in NYC while in most Podunks 75K would make you near royalty.
    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:24PM (#33499408)

      Man, if $75k is poverty in NYC then 2/3 of NYC lives in poverty! Is it really the case that only the top third of New Yorkers can be said to be non-poor?

      (The median income for the city is $48k, fwiw. Even for Manhattan, the median is $65k.)

      • by darien.train (1752510) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @01:20PM (#33500152) Journal

        Man, if $75k is poverty in NYC then 2/3 of NYC lives in poverty! Is it really the case that only the top third of New Yorkers can be said to be non-poor?

        If you were given a tour of some of the $1000-$1500 a month apartments in the Lower East Side and didn't know their cost, you'd certainly describe them as "impoverished" living conditions. The next level of rent in NYC ($1500-$2200) doesn't generally get you space past 800 square feet in the city (New Yorkers call Manhattan "The City," not the boroughs, FYI). There is also a fee system in NYC for renting any apartment via a realtor - which is one of the only ways of getting a good place. The fee is usually a full-months rent that you pay to the realtor and never get back. So...if you're going to rent an $1000-a-month apartment here that you found via a realtor you pay the first months rent ($1000) last months rent ($1000) the fee ($1000) and a security deposit ($1000) making you're bill before moving expenses $4000. With all combined moving expenses you can easily pay $8000 to move a half-mile to a place that's the same price as the one you're living in now. All of this doesn't even factor in all the shenanigans you'll encounter while trying to beat 20 other people on signing the lease.

        My wife and I live in NYC and we've estimated that for a husband and wife to live comfortably here (including going out to dinner once a week, belonging to a gym, being able to leave the city every other weekend, etc) you have to make around a combined income of $300k.

        People in NYC tend to be so used to sacrificing basics to live here that they've forgotten what poverty means to the rest of the country (this includes people who make 75K here.) NYC's super-wealthy on the other-hand are these maladjusted weirdos who have nothing to do besides be paranoid about who's trying to take their money and contribute little or nothing to society. Most students here could also easily be deemed as impoverished. I've known some who go on sugar packet raids at bodegas and Starbucks as a way to save money.

        I just heard a quote the other day (can't remember where) about NYC. "It's heaven and hell." That about sums it up.

  • by alen (225700) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:54AM (#33499046)

    few months ago the NY Times did a breakdown of a $250,000 salary in NYC. after the insane "progressive" taxes, the mortgage and HOA fees of living on the upper east side or UWS, the nanny or the crazy elite day care there is very little left.

    • by elucido (870205) *

      Especially rich people. Which explains some of the attitudes rich people have toward life in general.

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:10PM (#33499226)

      Which is mostly their fault. I dislike taxes as much as anyone else, and I'm not usre our current system is exactly fair ... but the HOA fees "of living on the upper east side or UWS," the nanny, and the elite day care (and the elite private elementary schools that are $15k/yr or whatever, etc) are their choice.

      Also, the five $60k+ cars eat into their income, too.

      I'm glad we have a free country where people can make their own decisions, but being rich does not mean you necessarily make good money decisions. Seems like a lot of rich people have ended up poor because they didn't know how to manage their own riches and they spent it all, gambled it, invested it stupidly, or whatever.

  • Enough already (Score:3, Interesting)

    by al0ha (1262684) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @11:56AM (#33499076) Journal
    These stupid stories based on lame research and over simplification of the human condition are really pissing me off.

    $75,000 per year may buy a lot of happiness, if that is possible, in a place where the cost of living is really low, but in LA , NYC or Frisco? Forget about it - $75,000 is chicken feed - you can barely pay your rent on that salary. Guess most people living in LA, NYC and San Fran are really unhappy if this is the case.

    Oh wait, I make more than that, but my wife does not work, so for the two of us we make less and we live in one of the aforementioned expensive cities. Guess we should be unhappy - dang it I hate it when I am not deemed normal!
  • That's well above the average income round these parts.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:02PM (#33499144) Homepage Journal

    I don't know how you put a $ figure on it. For me, it was lack of plastic debt. I have one CC and it it paid off weekly, yeah, weekly. My main debt is my house, followed by a car; whose sale price was less than 30% my gross. I do my best to keep monthlies to a minimum, meaning paid for cell plan, my internet, and my TV.

    I set aside multiple savings accounts with automatic $50 deductions or more, after a while you lose track of them until tax time but the its nice to know you have money out there. So besides paying down debt create an automatic deposit into a savings account, preferably not at the same back your checking is at. Then just file it away in the back of your mind. Never touch it unless you lost all other means of having money for shelter and food.

    You can be debt free on 20K if you live right. That is where most people get tripped up. They refuse to live within their means and the blame others (if not society). I can't count the number of people I work with who have notes or leases on cars that cost half it not more than half their gross pay. Throw in $100 a month for Smart phone plans; as in many who have one are not; and its easy to see why people aren't happy, they are too busy going broke to impress people, people who generally don't care. I certainly don't care what car you park in the lot, let alone I doubt anyone seeing your shiny 5 series/E-class/A6 really gives a flip when they likely will pass another dozen of the same that day.

    Don't live to impress others with material wealth.

  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:03PM (#33499162) Homepage
    The study found that being divorced, being sick and other painful experiences have worse effects on a poor person than on a wealthier one. Our wealthy ruling elite can insulate from all the social pathologies they promote. They think the middle and lower classes can weather the storms as easily as they can, so those social pathologies must not be bad. But if you live in the wreckage, you shake your fist at our ruling elite, and call down a curse on them.
  • Amazing!!! (Score:3, Funny)

    by retardpicnic (1762292) <retardpicnic@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:05PM (#33499188)

    Princeton has now been able to PROVE that getting a serious illness, or divorced is harder on poor people. WOW! Amazing! GO IVY LEAGUE

  • Divorce... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:14PM (#33499270) Homepage

    The study found that being divorced, being sick and other painful experiences have worse effects on a poor person than on a wealthier one.

    Probably has something to do with the fact that the poor man watches as divorce attorneys and his ex-wife divide up most of what he earned with his labor. The fact that a woman can divorce a man for literally no reason in particular (this is what "no fault divorce" really means) has made divorce extremely likely to happen to most men, especially lower status men. Women initiate about 70% of all divorces in the United States, which puts the average man at a 33% risk that for whatever reason, he'll end up getting raped by the divorce courts.

    Of course, the moment you tell Americans that their personal happiness is secondary to their duties to their spouses, children, family, friends, etc. is the moment you're call an uber-Fascist anti-American Who Hates Freedom. The fact that you voluntarily entered the marriage and are now metaphorically laying down in the bed you made is not something most Americans will accept.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:17PM (#33499314) Journal

    I recently left a job where I was making under $75,000 and took a job where I am now making over $75,000. In the first case I was slightly below, and in the latter I am slightly above. In my previous job I had a lot of slack. I took the train to work. I worked pretty much whatever hours I felt like. I did not have very many responsibilities. In my current job I have less slack, I am working longer hours and I have significantly more responsibility.

    In the previous job, my debt was not shrinking as quickly as I wanted it to. None the less I wasn't scratching out a subsistance living while trying to pare it down. I was going out to eat with my girlfriend a lot and making random purchases when I wanted things (PS3, HDTV, etc.) I was driving a beater car, but since I was taking the train, it didn't matter so much. In my new job, my debt is falling quickly and I'm driving a much newer car. I am still going out to eat a lot, but having obtained most of the crap that I wanted, I have extra money to pay down debt.

    All in all, I'm not sure that I am any happer >$75,000 than I was at $75,000. I do know that I have less time to practice tai chi and kung fu and that irks me. I have a lot more responsibility, but I saw that coming. I'm now the guy we all read about with his Blackberry going off at all hours of the night. In life we have the opportunity to trade our time for someone else's money. They have things that need to be done, and they get to the point where their own time is so valuable that they can pay other people to do it for them. The more money that you make, the more of yourself and your time that you have to give up for it.

    Based on my experience, $75,000 seems to be a good number (in Southern California) at least. A part of me thinks it is a little high. Someone who can content themselves with a simplistic life (as I wish I could, and I do half heartedly strive for), it is more than enough. Too far below it and you start having to make some sacrifices like living in not so great neighborhoods, driving older / less unreliable cars, not being able to go out whenever the mood strikes you. Yet once you get above it, you start giving up yourself. You enter that realm of responsibility where you are the go to person when things need to get done. You lose the ability to tell others, "I will deal with it tomorrow" in all but the most extreme cases. In Southern California the $75,000 mark seems to be the bottom of the "You can really do what you say you can do" pay scale. It only goes up from there as you continue to prove yourself, but you get more money at the expense of your free time.

    Personally, I think I reached a little too far. I would have rather stayed below $75,000 and enjoyed the slack.

  • by TheABomb (180342) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @12:19PM (#33499324)

    Did they go by how much a person makes or how much a person spends?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blair1q (305137)

      They went by salary, using the usual "family of four" criterion.

      They didn't subtract taxes or scale for localized cost-of-living.

      As science, it's bollocks. As politics, it's solid gold.

  • by CHK6 (583097) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @01:14PM (#33500064)
    And to state the obvious..... $75K in Cupertino, CA isn't the same as $75K in Oakdale Town, TN.
  • by griffman99h (671362) on Tuesday September 07, 2010 @05:30PM (#33503380)

    So if this is to be believed, then with a current world population of 6,697,254,041 (*75,000)

    It would cost 502,294,053,075,000 per year

    so 500 Trillion dollars a year for EVERYone to be happy.

    Current world gdp is 61 Trillion.

    My Utopian dream bubble has been popped.

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