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Experienced well-being rises with income, even above $75k per year [pdf] (pnas.org)
41 points by awb 30 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 16 comments

People seem to equate wealth with materialism, but think of some of things having money allows you to do:

- Donate to causes you care about + get access to influential people to further those causes

- Receive top medical care for physical and mental health problems

- Drop everything to care for or spend time with sick friends and family

- Engage services like lawyers and accountants to make stressful problems go away

I could go on...

And sure, having money is not to going to guarantee things like good personal relationships. But it's a hell of a lot easier when you can throw money at many sources of stress.

"The poor buy money with time, the rich buy time with money."

Wealth is basically time.

The more wealth you have the more time you have to do things you want to do.

75k number was brain washing to convince people that money doesnt matter. Wealth unlocks a completely different life, and yes, you are missing out if you dont have it

The 75k number has always felt to me like a complete fabrication. While I agree that wellbeing is not exactly correlated to money (eg. Health problems etc), there is almost no case that I can think of where it doesn't improve it dramatically. I think the thing that is often missed is not that having a lot of money is good of itself, rather that having money gives you freedom. You have the ability to control your time like others don't, and choose that which fulfills you. Will your life be perfect, almost certainly not, but I'd wager it has a higher probability of being better than if you were poorer. 75k is not going to buy you any meaningful freedom, even if it will keep you out of objective poverty.

Interestingly there does appear to be a plateau or drop just below $100k.

I wonder if this is around the transition point between being fairly well off, but still salaried and reliant on the salary, to being independently wealthy (or at least, the prospect of achieving independent wealth). Highly paid but salaried people are subject to all sorts of politics and power games, and there's always the prospect of losing it all.

Observing the people I know who are truly independently wealthy, the thing they have that no salaried person has is control of their time. Even if they're nominally employed, it tends to be in a flexible manner. That control over your life is a step change in well being.

Anyone who claimed otherwise has never experienced what living with it truly feels like. Throwing around theoretical calculations will never replicate the situations and feelings, the differences in upbringing and so on - all that at once, since birth until death, for generations.

Living with what?

With this amount of income. The limit is much higher, that is obvious to anyone who lived with it.

In the experiment people installed an app that would send them push notifications asking them how they felt throughout the day. Compliance was measure of how many alerts were sent vs. how many got a reply. Median compliance was 72%. I wonder how you control for people not replying because they’re having a bad day.

Edit: some reviews of the app used for the experiment hint at this bias [1]

[1] https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/track-your-happiness/id86726...

Could it also be possible that it is experiencing well being that causes you to have a higher income?

Like let’s say I have a great marriage, good well behaved kids, lots of close friends, so I have maybe a network of people I can turn to, I have people to help me when I need emotional support etc, and having these things not only allows me to experience well being but then makes it easier to get and keep higher paying jobs?

To be fair I think it just goes both ways, but I really hope people don’t think more income is a magic solution for peoples’ problems leading to their happiness. I think the hard work it might take for a low income earner to get a higher income, is part of what also increases their well being.

(Take everything I say with a grain of salt because I haven’t had money problems for almost my entire life)

Yeah, it goes both ways.

Money can buy you free time, by reducing the time you spend working for someone else (two jobs -> one job -> no job), and by paying other people to do stuff for you. Money reduces stress from your life, by knowing you can quit your job if it becomes too bad, by knowing you can afford to fix broken stuff or get healthcare (or get better healthcare). Money allows you to buy things you need, and the things you want.

This can improves your relations, because you have more time to spend with people you care about, more time to think about them, can spend money to help them, can spend money to have fun with them. Being less stressed makes it more fun to be with you. Having money makes you a more desirable partner (other things being equal).

And this all can translate into better income opportunities. Being happily married is cheaper than being divorced. Having "f-you money" improves your negotiating position at job. Being less stress makes it easier to focus on being productive. You can buy the tools or lessons that you think you need; you have time to learn new stuff. Your friends can recommend you better jobs, or better business opportunities. (Also, rich people usually have rich friends, which usually have access to better jobs and better opportunities.)

This cycle can also break if you e.g. have some mental problem or personality trait that makes your life suck regardless of how much money you have.

> I think the hard work it might take for a low income earner to get a higher income, is part of what also increases their well being.

It can make you more proud of your achievements. Depends on whether you would rather be proud, or live an enjoyable life... speaking for myself, I would choose the latter, but maybe the grass is always greener on the other side. Also, your hard work may fail to make you rich, or you may get older and unable to work hard anymore.

It would be interesting to know if this were to continue about $500k, but it's so hard to gather data at that scale.

Even so, the fact that it's logarithmic rather than a cutoff says much the same thing: beyond a certain point it takes a lot more money to produce a little additional happiness. Tradeoffs for other factors (hobbies, finding a partner, social connections, doing public good) might produce more additional happiness than trying to increase your salary 10x.

And it keeps going and going up! Maybe it was enough for most when land was cheaper. Prices have skyrocketed. My guess is something changes the moment the grind becomes unnecessary because you easily have earned X such that desirable living expenses taken care of for Y years. Much easier to achieve if you’re Mr. Money Mustache. How big is X? Y?

I wonder how the variance in well-being changes with income. Bigger or smaller swings?

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