17 Jan 2013

Money can buy happiness, study shows

6:31 pm on 17 January 2013

New research indicates the old saying money can't buy you happiness is wrong.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Auckland was based on statistical analysis of phone surveys of 2746 women and 2451 men.

The report's lead author, Nikhil Sengupta, says many believe that poorer people are compensated by increased happiness and less stress.

However, Mr Sengupta says that's delusion - and poorer people are actually unhappier than those with more money.

"One of the mechanisms explaining why income predicts happiness is the perceived ability to meet one's daily needs.

"People who are on lower incomes have a lower perceived ability to their daily needs - this causes stress and this reduces their experience and their quality of life."

The research found that the actual dollar amount is not so important when it comes to boosting happiness.

People whose income doubled from $10,000 to $20,000 reported the same boost in happiness as those whose income increased from $100,000 to $200,000.

Nikhil Sengupta says the research is important as it is the first study to investigate the relationship between income and wellbeing in New Zealanders.

Emilia Mazur from New Zealand Lotteries says it's obvious that people who win Lotto are happy to collect their prize - and it seems they remain happy.

But Family Budgeting Services chief executive Raewyn Fox says from her experience, the link between happiness and money isn't always clear cut.

"Lack of money can make you unhappy, but I don't think it's an obvious conclusion that having money makes you happy.

"We actually see quite a lot of people on large incomes that are mis-managing their money and very unhappy about it. So I don't think it's so much the amount of money, but the way you manage it."

Ms Fox says she sees many families who are coping well on low incomes and seem content with their lives.