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February 02, 2022

Can money buy happiness? Uh, yes: study

Is anyone really sure where the phrase “money can’t buy happiness” came from?

Istockphoto_13089724-excited-young-woman-holding-money Probably, it stemmed from some royal of yesteryear that was burdened by his powers or maybe brought down, Caesar-like, by his own team. Of course, the saying would also apply to someone like Cliff Baxter, the manic depressive (albeit wealthy) former Enron executive that shot himself to death following the company’s collapse.

Aside from times like these, though, does anyone buy it? Indeed, while we may have disagreed with such a notion before, now we may be able to scientifically prove it's wrong.

By a new study from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, money can  buy you happiness – which is to say, if the country you live in is wealthy, you’re more likely to be happy with your life.

According to the report released this week, data from 140 countries has indeed concluded that an increased capacity for life satisfaction coincides with the prosperity of a nation.

Now, here’s where you’re saying, Oh, you think so, doctor? It’s not exactly rocket science to suggest living in a wealthy nation, where waste isn’t running in the streets or violence isn’t erupting around you, makes for a more pleasant day-to-day.

But the interesting, unique thing to the Wharton study is that happiness-by-wealth isn’t relative. Report co-author Justin Wolfers, an associate professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School, says that his research shows people in Italy have the same relationship with money as people in Thailand and people in Kenya.

Before, common perception suggested only us Westernized folk put such a premium on money prefacing happiness. Turns out, the rest of the world may just be as materialistic as us, after all.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

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The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...