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I love your great statistical analysis and articles, but you really should do something about the html in your blog header.


Happiness is good. It is good to be happy.

Happiness like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Many quadrapeligics find happiness. Many poor across the world are happy. Clerics who take vows of poverty can be happy. Maslow is wrong.

Having an income of less than $150,000 does not condemn one to unhappiness.



Of course. The chart itself shows that people with low incomes are also happy in 25% of the instances.

But happiness rises with income, until a certain point, where more income no longer increases the chances of happiness.

Clerics are actually self-actualized in many cases, so are already at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.


Your next raise might buy you a more lavish vacation, a better car, or a few extra bedrooms, but it's not likely to buy you much happiness.

Measuring the quality of people's daily lives via surveys, the results of a study published in the June 30 issue of journal Science reveals that income plays a rather insignificant role in day-to-day happiness.

Although most people imagine that if they had more money they could do more fun things and perhaps be happier, the reality seems to be that those with higher incomes tend to be tenser, and spend less time on simple leisurely activities.

Scaling bad mood
In 2004, the researchers developed a survey tool that measures people's quality of daily lives. Then they asked 909 employed women to record the previous day's activities and their feelings toward them.

The study focused on women because the researchers wanted to study a homogeneous group while the surveys were in the early developmental stages.

Recently, the researchers revisited the data from the 2004 and focused on correlating the amount of income with the percentage of time each participant reported as being in a bad mood each day.

It was expected that those who made less than $20,000 a year would spend 32 percent more of their time in a bad mood than those that had an annual income greater than $100,000.

In reality, the low-income group spent only 12 percent more time in a bad mood than their wealthier counterparts. This suggests that the link between income and mood has been perhaps overstated.

The researchers once again surveyed another group of women in 2005. In this study, participants not only recorded their overall satisfaction with life but a moment-to-moment account of their contentment.

The results showed that higher income had less of a correlation with momentary happiness than with overall life satisfaction.

"If people have high income, they think they should be satisfied and reflect that in their answers," said study team member Alan Krueger, an economist from Princeton University. "Income, however, matters very little for moment-to-moment experience."

More chores, less fun
Krueger and colleagues also looked at data from a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey to see how people in different income brackets spent their time.

What they found was that those with higher incomes had more chores and less fun.

They devoted more time to working, commuting, childcare, and shopping and were under more stress and tension than those in lower income brackets.

According to government statistics, men who make more than $100,000 a year spend 19.9 percent of their time on passive leisure activities such as watching television and socializing. Meanwhile, men whose annual income were less than $20,000 spent more than 34 percent of their time dedicated to passive leisure.

Although the correlation between income and life satisfaction is weak, people are highly motivated to increase their income. This illusion may lead to more time spent on activities like commuting while sacrificing time spent on socializing, something that people consider amongst the best moments of their daily life, the researchers said in the study.



The richer you are the greater your chances are to be happy. Not a massively shocking discovery. What interests me is the middle-class dip. The $40,000 to $50,000 range shows a drop in happiness. Why?

As for the Republican/Democrat split, be careful in interpreting cause and effect. The "happiness gap" could be because Republicans tend to be richer.

It could also be (snark warning) nothing more than the fact that the sight of rich, arrogant, jolly Republicans is just so damn exasperating.

Assistant Village Idiot

Keep Maslow out. The theory looks intuitvely likely, but it doesn't seem to hold up under scrutiny.

I would also contest the idea that happiness is a natural condition. I don't think that's the default position of humans in the absense of stressors or discomfort. Evolutionary psychology would suggest that mild anxiety would be a more likely default position. Happy, jolly people get eaten.



You didn't read the Pew Report. Within, it shows that even at low income levels, Republicans are happier than Democrats of the same income. This is true of ALL tiers of income - whether $20K, $30k, $40k, etc. the Republican is happier than a Democrat earning the same income.

Even within Democrats, moderates are happier than liberals.

Check the report.

This would concur with the pattern of one *needing* to be a pessimist in order to be a Democrat.


The Independent Women’s Inst. published an interesting set of charts on, among other things, happiness by year, country, family type, etc. http://www.iwf.org/pdf/American%20%20Promise.pdf”>(PDF file)The most interesting chart shows that happiness is constant from 1979 to 2005, despite inarguably increased standard of living.
I think this shows happiness is determined much more by what you are/do vice what you have. It also gives supporting reasons as to why Republicans are happier than Democrats.


Forgot this engine adds its own domain to the front of links. PDF file is here: http://www.iwf.org/pdf/American%20%20Promise.pdf


Half of your personality is inherited. Identical twin studies prove it.

Happiness may be written in your genes.



Interesting point. That means that political leanings may also be inherited in the majority of cases.

That would make abortion rather ironic, as those who get abortions are groups that overwhelmingly vote Democratic (African Americans, urban unmarried women, non-religious people, people with lower incomes, etc.)

If abortion has aborted 45 million people since 1971, of which a cumulative 15-20 million would be of voting age today, and 70%+ of them would vote Democrat, then the pro-abortion people may just have eliminated millions of potential voters from being born.


Abortion is the biggest form of birth control in Russia.


While the saying “you can’t buy happiness” may be absolutely accurate, it certainly doesn’t hurt your overall happiness if you aren’t worried about where your next meal is coming from.

Random useless anecdote time: I worked through college, with some help in the form of financial aid and a bit of help from my parents. But there were times, near the end of the semester, when things would get lean. “time to buy noodles for the next month” lean. It was stressful worrying about if I would be able to work enough to pay bills, buy food, And somehow have enough time to attended lectures. Now that I’m well out of college, married, kids, standard American Dream fodder, that stress about the next paycheck doesn’t exist.

Am I happier now? I have no idea. But I have significantly fewer day to day worries.

So perhaps that is the correlation. Not absolute income, but rather how wealth and income potential alleviate the need to focus on day-to-day survival which translates into a general wellbeing.

Or not. I certainly have no idea. But even my worst days are less stressful than every day back then.


Be careful making jumps of correlation to causation.

You are assuming that liberals have a lower happiness level than conservatives BECAUSE they liberal. While that conclusion supports your notion that liberals hold the views you project onto them, it's simply not backed by the data at all.

There is a rather high correlation between drowning deaths and the amount of pavement tar that melts in a given city in a given time period. The more tar the melts, the more drowning deaths. That doesn't mean that melting tar makes people drown or that people drowning melts tar. More likely it means that there is a 3rd and seperate factor effecting both variables (in this case, heat).

When you're discussing something more general like this it becomes increasingly likely that there are MANY other factors effecting both variables. You're own link indicates that black people are less happy than white (which is also a correlation, NOT a causation). Black people also tend to vote democratic (another correlation, NOT a causation). Therefore even if you controlled for everything but race, you'd find that Republicans report a generally higher level of happiness. Yet this poll controls for NOTHING. You cannot draw any usable conclusions from it.

Minimum Wage

I didn't save any cites, but I've seen articles suggesting happiness is correlated with your income RELATIVE to that of your same-cohort peers.

In other words, if you're young and broke and just starting out, you're okay with that, because your friends are in the same boat.

If you're earning a lot more than your peers, you're likely to be happier than they are.

If you're middle aged and broke, like I am, you're likely to be downright miserable.

Jack Mcglen

This started as an interesting article, linked in with my interest in the relationship between political leaning and happiness.
Then you lost it, big time. To suggest that those who support taxing the rich are simply jealous is outrageous and, I suspect, a thinly veiled attempt to slur those who believe a a fairer and more equal society. Did it not occur, through your web of right-wing lunacy, that Republicans are happier then Democrats and liberals because the latter take more interest in the inequality that is prevalent in western society? If you take a look at the relevant psychological research, you may find my argument supported.


Jack McGlen,

The relevant psychological research supports my points, and disproves yours.

America already IS the fairest and most equal society in the world. Before you trot out the 'Sweden' example, note that Sweden doesn't let in immigrants the way America does.

The 'inequality' you claim to loathe is the natural order of things. People do not have equal abilities, hence will not receive equal outcomes.

Exactly how will you legislate that a hard-working person make the same money as a lazy person? Or that an ugly woman get the same level of male interest as Miss California?

It is not 'right-wing lunacy', it is common sense. It is you who live in fairy-tale world that most people grow out of by age 8.

Your ranting prove the point of the article beautifully.

 chanel 2.55

Although most people imagine that if they had more money they could do more fun things and perhaps be happier, the reality seems to be that those with higher incomes tend to be tenser, and spend less time on simple leisurely activities.

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