Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happiness Flatlines Halfway Up the Income Ladder

Boing Boing reports this gem from the TED conference [TED used to mean Technology, Entertainment, Design; now it means Ideas Worth Spreading in many fields]:

Psychologist and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman says millions of dollars won't buy you happiness, but a job that pays $60,000 a year might help. Happiness levels increase up to the $60K mark, but "above that it's a flat line," he said.

$60,000 is about the midpoint of the income scale for American families - 50% makes less than that, 50% make more. This is a reachable income standard for nearly all two-income couples, and for the great majority of college graduates by themselves (and much more with a second income in the family).

Once your basic survival needs are met, even in an expensive country, happiness mostly depends on who you spend time with and how well you interact.


Anonymous said...

This is good news for us college students worried about numbers.

Anonymous said...


I agree that money does not = happiness and other things are more important (health, family, friends) but my husband and I are a lot happier (maybe more content is a better word?) making $200,000+ than we were when we were making half that. We are now able to take the kids on those "dream vacations" we'd dreamed of, fix up the house, and have more discretionary income to give to charity. Some of the improvements we've made to the house, like upgrading a horribly outdated and poorly designed kitchen, has made our home a much, much more enjoyable place. In fact, we now spend lots more time at home because we like it so much, and that increases the time we spend together.

Also, I believe you have to take location into consideration when giving a hard and fast number like $60,000. We live in California...our 2200 sq. ft. house even today is worth about $700,000 (not what we paid for it...fortunately we got in before the market skyrocked) so $60,000 would not be adequate here for a family.

Anonymous said...

We paid $150,000 for new 2200 sq. ft. home seven years ago in Dallas. Location does matter.

Gruntled said...

Do you know what the median income in your community is?

Anonymous said...

$55,000 per household.

Gruntled said...

So following the real estate rule of thumb that you don't want to buy a house that costs more than three times your annual income, your house is right at the community average.