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Can Money Buy Happiness Essays

Money Can Buy Happiness

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If there were no money in the world, it would have been replaced with another method of relating one item to a different one and estimating is value. However, we do live in a world where money exists and just about everything you can think of, requires money to acquire.

Purchasing power

Different countries have their unique forms of money and global economies have, over time, related the value of each dollar to that of another. This makes it very easy to purchase items from different countries if you don’t already posses their money type.

Different items in life have different values, some as a result of practicality and demand, others because of branding and popularity. This means that here are certain things that can only be acquired by the very wealthy and many things that those with limited funds have to do without.

There is also the problem of accessibility, if you cannot either go to a location to purchase an item that can only be found there, or have it delivered to you via some form of long distance trading, some items will forever be out of your reach, for example, mars rocks.

Money and happiness

We live in a material world and most of our lives depend on materials for happiness and comfort. All of these materials have to be purchased and so on a very basic level, without money, you cannot survive, at least not very comfortably. This is the very first level of money buying happiness, money can buy things necessary for survival and without life, their is no happiness.

On the other hand, if one has everything they need to survive, a home, food , clothing, their happiness may depend on other things, like job success or family. Money can buy these things but only to a certain degree, for instance you could bribe someone into giving you the job you desire but then, only if they are willing to accept a bribe.

Families cost money to maintain and after acquiring enough money to enable you to have one, you are not guaranteed to have the family you desire. People change and so can their desires, even if your family does suit your needs, you may outgrow that feeling and so you will find that money did not buy you happiness.

Happiness is not as straight forward as a it sounds, one person’s happiness can bring despair to someone else.

Scientific evidence has shown us that in fact, money DOES buy happiness, but only to a certain point. 

A famous Princeton study (linked below) found that emotional wellbeing increases steadily with income, up to around $75,000 per year. After that point, income does not have much of an effect on emotional wellbeing. 

Research has previously shown that low income families are more likely to divorce than higher income families (see NCFR link), and that lower income couples were more likely to have their relationship negatively influenced by money problems. Together, these facts suggest that conflict within low income families can often relate to money problems, leading to unhappiness and divorce at higher rates than high income families. 

The Princeton study has found that low income families also experience more emotional distress from unfortunate life events (which include poor health and loneliness as well as divorce) than do higher income families. 

With that said, it seems clear that $75,000 for a family isn't really all that much money. Two parents earning just over $37,000 per year will earn that much (which works out to around $18 per hour per parent working 40 hours per week). Clearly, though, a single parent earning that salary will earn far below the 'happiness threshold', and will suffer from many of the financial troubles experienced by low income families. 

Essentially, I think the data shows us that money can buy happiness if you are in poverty or struggling with money. In this case, the money will eliminate several sources of unhappiness, such as stress and marital conflict over finances. But once you have a comfortable family income: enough to pay for all your fixed expenses (such as rent/mortgage, bills, and groceries) and maybe a few luxuries (movie tickets), money doesn't really have much of an impact on happiness. 

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