Being poor is more likely to make you stressed and unhappy. We already knew this. But now, there's research to back it up.
In a study published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, two researchers conclude that happiness does increase with income and can continue to increase before maxing out at around $500,000 per year. That is counter to a previous 2010 study that suggested happiness plateaus at around an income level of $75,000 (adjusted for inflation). Both sets of research definitely don't suggest that you'll be in a great emotional state with, say, half of that income.
The Washington Post reports that the study was done as a survey of 33,391 adults aged 18 to 65 in the U.S. who work and make at least $10,000 a year in their household. An app the researchers developed asked participants at random intervals how happy they were feeling at that moment.
While happiness keeps going up with more income for more people, the new study found there's an "unhappy minority," about 20 percent, who will get happier up to a certain point, but then stay the same, usually from external "miseries" that can't be solved by money, such as depression or bereavement. In other words, as researcher Matthew Killingsworth says, "If you're rich and miserable, more money won't help."
Still, he adds, "Money is not the secret to happiness, but it can probably help a bit."
A bit? Have you seen my mortgage? The good news for those of us struggling to get to the happiness that riches may bring is that the research suggests happiness rises much faster among lower earnings as income rises, more so than people who start wealthier. So if you're climbing the income ladder, prepare for happier days.
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