Money can't buy happiness but it helps: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Money may not buy happiness, but for many Americans it seems to help.

Guests sit at the Patisserie section of The Bazaar restaurant at the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills, California December 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Although overall a third of Americans questioned in a Harris survey described themselves as very happy, the numbers ranged from 28 percent for those with an annual income of $35,000 to 38 percent for people bringing home $75,000 or more a year.

“Money does make a little bit of a difference,” said Regina Corso, director of the Harris Poll. “It is not a huge difference but when we can say that 82 percent of those at the lower income level are not very happy, I think that does say a lot.”

The survey also showed married women tended to more content than their single counterparts and than men. The number of happy people has also dropped slightly from previous years.

“Just one third of Americans this year are saying they are very happy. It is a slight downward trend from last year and the year before when 35 percent said this,” said Corso.

Harris’ findings are based on an online poll of 2,755 people who were asked statements about positive relationships with family and friends, work frustrations, time for hobbies, health concerns, their financial situation, spiritual beliefs and their impact on situations.

“One of the things we saw the largest drop in from last year to this year was that people do not feel their voice was being heard in national decisions,” said Corso.

“Things were happening around them that they had no control over,” she added in an interview.

But one of the most positive points in the survey was the relationship with family and friends. Almost two-thirds of Americans agreed the links were strong and a source of happiness.

Surprisingly people who discussed the more serious topics making headlines and featured in the news, were more content than those who didn’t. Corso attributed the finding to people having an outlet to discuss what bothers them. So instead of dwelling on serious topics they are talking about them.

“I think that is healthier than for others who keep it in,” she said.