U. WARWICK (UK)—Simply being highly paid isn’t enough. To be happy, people need to perceive themselves as being more highly paid than their friends and work colleagues.
“Our study found that the ranked position of an individual’s income best predicted general life satisfaction, while the actual amount of income and the average income of others appear to have no significant effect,” says lead researcher Chris Boyce of the department of psychology at the University of Warwick.
“Earning a million pounds a year appears to be not enough to make you happy if you know your friends all earn 2 million a year.”
The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.
The researchers from Warwick and Cardiff University were seeking to explain why people in rich nations have not become any happier on average over the last 40 years even though economic growth has led to substantial increases in average incomes.
The researchers examined seven years of data on earnings and life satisfaction from the British Household Panel Survey, a representative longitudinal sample of British households and found that satisfaction was much more strongly related to the ranked position of the person’s income (compared to people of the same gender, age, level of education, or from the same geographical area).
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