Well, what do you know: It looks like money really can buy happiness.
For years, the conventional wisdom in American culture has been that the rich have their own set of issues that are under appreciated by the rest of the population. This was perhaps best summed up by rapper Biggie Smalls in his hit song “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.”
But despite cultural taboos about high-paying, high-pressure jobs leading to substance abuse, divorce and familial ruin, one recent study found that the highest-earning Americans actually reported feeling both happier and more fulfilled on a day-to-day basis.
Here’s more on the study from The Washington Post: Adults in the top 1% of U.S. household income (i.e. those who earn at least $500,000 a year) have “dramatically different life experiences” than everyone else, according to a survey sponsored by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
A full 90% of the 1% say they are “completely” or “very” satisfied with their lives in general. That compares with two-thirds of middle-income households – those earning $35,000 to $99,000 a year – and 44% of low-income households – ie those in the $35,000 a year or less bracket.
Even more impressive: The share of 1%-ers expressing “dissatisfaction” with their lives is statistically zero.
As WaPo explains, because the top 1% of US earners represents such a small subset of people, it’s typically difficult to gain insight into their thoughts and feelings via polling.
Previous studies showed that money makes a big difference in an individual’s level of happiness, but that the effect starts to weaken once an individual starts earning a little bit more than $75,000.
But apparently, as this latest study shows, although the rich might not be much happier on a day-to-day basis, individuals earning more than $500,000 a year are typically much more content with their lives.
Inside the top 1%, for example, some 97% say that they’ve already obtained the “American Dream”, as the respondent defines it, or are actively working toward it. Among low-income adults, by comparison, some 4 in 10 believe the American Dream is completely out of their reach.