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How much money can buy you happiness?

How much money can buy you happiness?
Image source: Getty Images

If you could buy happiness gift boxed, how much would it cost?

Well, according to a recent survey, money can indeed buy you happiness, but the price tag really depends on where you live.

How much happiness costs around the world

Despite having just six hours of sunlight in winter, Finland came out as the happiest country in Europe. Not only that, it also tops the global list.

The revelation comes from the World Happiness Report, which has been analysed by jobs platform, Directly Apply, in their Cost of happiness around the world survey. Thanks to their number crunching, we now know what you need to earn to enjoy happiness in true Finnish style.

So (drumroll please), according to Directly Apply, to be happy in the happiest country in the world, you’ll need to earn around £31,685 a year.

In second place was Denmark, followed by Norway and then Iceland. Switzerland came a respectable fifth, but you’d need to earn at least £25,000 more than in Finland in order to max out your happiness there.

So, can money buy happiness?

If we take ‘emotional wellbeing’ to mean happiness, then the answer is yes – but only to a certain extent.

A study from the Department of Psychology at Purdue University USA, found that happiness costs between $60,000 and $75,000 a year (approximately £46,000 – £59,000). But earning more than that doesn’t necessarily equate to increased happiness. The data also revealed that earning over $105,000 (£80,355) actually resulted in happiness decreasing.  

There are various theories about why this is. Primarily, it’s down to the fact that once you can afford a roof over your head, access to medical care, food (and in some countries, education) your essential needs are covered. These measures of security can be bought. Beyond that – when money buys mere things – happiness is not guaranteed.

Interestingly, Direct Apply’s analysis appears to support this (albeit on a much smaller scale). They found that although the average Brit earns £33,396 each year, the UK was ranked 15th for happiness. So, despite earning nearly £6,000 more than the average Finn, it evidently doesn’t make us want to jump for joy.

You can’t put a price on happiness

It’s a time-worn adage that money can’t buy you happiness. But that’s only true to a certain extent. What money does buy you is material security, which can enhance your sense of emotional wellbeing. And that – as various studies have shown – does have a price and can be bought.

Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves isn’t how much money buys you happiness but why do we feel the need to put a price on it?

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