The study, which monitored the effects of giving 200 people in seven countries a one-time sum of $10,000, found that money could at least improve people’s happiness for six months if they made less than $123,000 a year.
“Ten thousand dollars in certain places around the world can really buy you a lot,” Ryan Dwyer, a co-author of the study, told NBC News. “Some people spent a lot of the money paying down their mortgage or doing a big renovation on their house.”
The study examined people from three low-income countries, Brazil, Indonesia, and Kenya, and four high-income countries, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Researchers gave the lump sum to 200 different people and instructed them to spend it all within three months. The study then examined how the recipients felt once a month and compared it to a select group of people who did not get the money.
Participants were told to rate their satisfaction with their lives on a scale of one to seven and how often they felt happy or positive on a scale of one to five. The recipients also logged how they spent the money, but research on how this conveying to their overall quality of life is still being confirmed.
Participants from low-income countries felt three times as happy as those from high-income countries, and the people who made $10,000 a year became twice as happy as those who made $100,000 annually, the results showed.
Funds for the study came from two wealthy donors who donated a total of $2 million. The point of the research was to apply the concept of money buying happiness to the global stage. Dwyer added that he believes even more money would correlate with even more happiness.
It is possible that some of the happiness reported in the study had to do with people’s initial excitement at receiving the extra cash and that the feeling “probably decays slowly over time if they’re not receiving any additional income,” Dwyer said.
Participants were not aware of the study ahead of time, Dwyer said. Instead, they were told it would be “exciting, surprising, somewhat time-consuming, possibly stressful, but possibly also life-changing.”
All participants were between the ages of 21-78 and were recruited through Twitter in December 2020, according to the study.