A new study published in Emotion, titled The Expanding Class Divide in Happiness in the United States, 1972–2016, has determined that money can buy happiness, disputing the age-old adage “money can’t buy happiness.” The study found a correlation between income and happiness.
Chris McGrath / Getty Images
“We don’t find a tapering off of happiness at the top of the income scale — more money steadily brings more happiness,” said the study’s lead author, Jean Twenge, according to Business Insider. “It’s also possible that the tapering effect is an outdated finding, as the link between money and happiness has grown.”
The study also analyzed the happiness to wealth ratio through the lens of race: “We can’t say for sure, but the increase in happiness for Black Americans since 1972 could be due to gains in education and opportunities over this time,” Twenge said. “It will be interesting to see if this trend holds true during the Trump presidency and the pandemic; it’s possible Black Americans’ happiness will decrease after 2016.”
The study concluded before Donald Trump’s election and therefore data after that point, including the recent coronavirus pandemic, is not included.
“It will be interesting to see what happens with these trends in 2020, given the huge changes wrought by the pandemic and the protests,” Twenge said. “I think it’s likely that the growing class divide in happiness has continued during the Trump presidency, as income inequality has stayed high. In addition, the pandemic is having a bigger economic impact on lower-income workers than higher-income, which may contribute to an even larger class divide in happiness in 2020.”