Can money buy happiness? Maybe, up to $75,000

A bank employee counts U.S. dollar notes during a photo opportunity at a bank in Seoul May 4, 2010. REUTERS/Truth Leem

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Can money really make you happy? Not really, but up to about $75,000 a year can ease the pain of life’s stresses, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

A survey of 1,000 Americans shows they are overall fairly happy, and more money equals more satisfaction up to a point, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton of the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University in New Jersey found.

“More money does not necessarily buy more happiness, but less money is associated with emotional pain,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure.”

The people surveyed answered an intensive telephone survey with 450 questions, including detailed queries about income, satisfaction, emotions and stress, called the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

“Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness,” they added.

Feelings of well-being rose with income, but only up to about $75,000 a year, they found.

“As in other studies of well-being, we found that most people were quite happy and satisfied with their lives,” Kahneman and Deaton added reassuringly. About 85 percent of those surveyed smiled, felt enjoyment or happiness each day, although 39 percent felt stress.

Editing by Philip Barbara