Can’t buy me love?

This column originally appeared in The Observer magazine/Guardian online

They say that money can’t buy happiness. But can it?

Which salary band do you fit into (a) <£11k (bottom 20% for the UK), (b) £11k-18k, (c) 18-25k, (d) 25-36k, (e) > 36k (top 20% for the UK)?

And, on average, how often per day do you experience feelings of happiness, enthusiasm or satisfaction? And how often feelings of anger, frustration, sadness and worry?

Recent studies conducted in both the USA and Germany found that the higher your salary, the less often – on average – you experience feelings of anger, frustration, sadness and worry. But, perhaps surprisingly, there was no relationship at all between salary and how often people experienced happiness, enthusiasm or satisfaction. This makes sense when you stop to think about it: Rich people don’t walk around with a permanent grin on their faces, but they don’t have to worry about where their next meal or rent payment is coming from. So the old saying is right after all: money can’t buy happiness. But what it can buy – and frequently does – is the absence of sadness.

 A fully referenced version of this article is available at benambridge.com. Order Psy-Q by Ben Ambridge (Profile Books, £8.99) for £6.99 at bookshop.theguardian.com

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