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Evidence Shows Money isn't the Key to Happiness

The 2015 American Freshman Survey asked thousands of incoming students about their goals and aspirations. The highest proportion (81.9 percent) checked "becoming very well off financially" as an "essential" or "very important" life objective. But research indicates that if we pin our hopes of happiness on money, we are likely to be disappointed. While the literature is complex, there is good evidence to suggest that beyond a basic level of security, increased wealth is only slightly correlated with an increased sense of wellbeing, and the correlation tails off after $75,000.

As researcher Jonathan Haidt observes, "Wealth itself has only a small direct effect on happiness because it so effectively speeds up the hedonic treadmill … As the level of wealth has doubled or tripled in the last fifty years in many industrialized nations, the levels of happiness and satisfaction with life that people report have not changed, and depression has actually become more common."

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