Money Might Buy Some People Happiness, Just Not You

Illustration for article titled Money Might Buy Some People Happiness, Just Not You

"Money can't buy me love," as the song goes, but most people think it'll buy you a bunch of reasons to be happy. At the lower end, according to most studies, that's probably true — relative improvements in economic conditions can mean a substantive difference in the subjective judgment of happiness. But, up here at the top of the worldwide economic scale, it's not really as true.

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After a certain point, the marginal utility of extra money on a micro level is going to be almost nil because you'll just be keeping up with the Joneses and buying more crap and remaking yourself to try and externally approximate happiness or what you looked like when you were happy once without actually doing anything about being happy. It holds true on a macro-level, too. But, because this is marginally an article about economics, the economist in me would like to point out that there are government policies (other than increasing GDP) that can make a difference in a country's subjective happiness levels "such as maintaining stable families and friendly communities, reducing joblessness, providing adequate health care, and guaranteeing more personal freedom." But we don't like to do that because we're a nation of bootstrappers and DIYers and we're not a welfare state so, hooray for increasing GDP and getting ourselves happy on our own.

By the way, on a completely unrelated note, Americans spent more than the GDP of Bolivia on plastic surgery last year alone ($13.2 billion). In a more unrelated note, sales of antidepressents in 2006 in the U.S. were $20.6 billion. I'm not sure that our plans to find happiness in money or consumption are working, but whatever. I'm sure Priscilla can tell us. She looks happy enough.

Happiness Is ... [Portfolio]

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Earlier: Are You Sick Of Ladies On TV Looking Jacked Up?

DISCUSSION

mehblahpfft
MehBlahPfft

@Philthyist again.: A friend of our family is insanely wealthy. Her name is Signa. Ever hear of Merrill Lynch? Yeah, she's Lynch's daughter. Anyway, she grew up mega wealthy. Lived in the Dakota in NYC, had a huge mansion in Long Island (now open for tours), owned an ISLAND in the Bahamas, etc. As she grew up, she became a society woman, as those people are the only ones she ever knew. One day, she went to a party in a new dress ("bought off the rack, of course, I NEVER buy hoighty toighty designers") and discovered the hostess was wearing the same one. Signa thought this was hilarious and said so. The hostess burst into tears and ran to her room to change. That night, Signa and her husband decided that those were NOT their values and that was NOT how they wanted to live their lives. So they opened a horse farm in VT and worked with autistic kids. Their own children worked jobs in high school.

Signa is the fucking BOMB. (She also gave me her china as a wedding gift.)