NEW YORK – Money can buy you happiness, a new study suggests, but only if you earn less than £45,000.
Once annual earnings pass this mark, people become more focused on climbing the corporate ladder than finding happiness in what they do, the research by Dr Miriam Tatzel from the State University of New York says.
But before salaries reaches £44,700, workers do live a more fulfilled life as they earn more money, the academics behind the research say.
The study found that higher earners lose sight of what really makes them happy – strong relationships and positive experiences.
The paper’s author Dr Miriam Tatzel, from Empire State College, New York, said: ‘Emotional well-being rises with income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of about $75,000 (£44,702.73).
‘A society in which some people are idolised for being fabulously rich sets a standard of success that is unattainable and leads us to try to approach it by working more and spending more.
‘Cooling the consumption-driven economy, working less and consuming less are better for the environment and better for humans, too.’
Dr Tatzel, who presented the study to the American Psychological Association, said that despite celebrity culture suggesting that being a big spender will make a person happy, it is actually quite the opposite.
And she pointed to further psychological studies which show that basic needs, such as having a good social life and being independent, were far more likely to make a person happy than the pursuit of money and possessions.
‘Frugal people are happier with life in general. This means conserving resources as well as money.
‘That may be because avoiding the negative consequences of spending too much and going into debt is one way to avoid unhappiness.
‘Materialism is bad for consumers’ well-being.’
The consumer psychologist said that making good memories was key to living a happier life.
‘People’s wants escalate as they tire of what they have and they want something else, which in turn leads to more consumption,’ Dr Tatzel said.
‘The larger the gap between what one wants and what one has, the greater the dissatisfaction. Less materialism equals more happiness.
‘Experiences live on in memory, are incomparable, often shared with others and don’t have to be resource intensive.’