Research Shows Money Does Buy Happiness


Does Money Buy Happiness?


It certainly helps and accordingly to recent research, so does charity. Visual Capitalist (VC) is an online publisher that charts international data. Using the World Happiness Index (WHI), VC put together a chart of countries' wealth and their happiness rating, the findings are intriguing.


Preview of the VC chart depicting the connection between wealth and happiness.
Preview of the VC chart depicting the connection between wealth and happiness.

For the full view of the chart please visit https://www.visualcapitalist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/wealth-and-happiness-full-size.html


The chart shows a distinct upward trend, as countries become wealthier, they also become happier. When the World Happiness Index ranks a country on its happiness it considers individuals' income, lifespan, charity giving, perception of corruption, satisfaction with friends and family, and sense of personal freedom. If we take a closer look at the high-scoring countries and exceptions to the overall trend, we see there is more to our happiness than just money.


John F. Helliwell, a Canadian Economist says, “social support, trust in institutions, and generosity are the most significant factors in a country’s overall happiness rating”. According to the detailed report from the World Happiness Index, Helliwell is right. The happiest countries all have a few things in common besides wealth they give the most in charity and have the highest taxes to support the poorest amongst them.


A photo of a drawing of two hands reaching for each other.
A photo of a drawing of two hands reaching for each other.

When You Give Charity, You Share Your Happiness.


One of the quantifiers for happiness on the World Happiness Index was how much generosity was felt in the community. A question in the index questionnaire is “how often do you give to a private charity in your community?” The country holding first place on the WHI, the happiest country in the world, Finland, scored the highest in generosity in the community with charitable giving, very high taxing laws that lead to strong social security net programs, and free schooling from preschool through to post-secondary.


A photo of a young boy sitting on a bench with a book smiling.
A photo of a young boy sitting on a bench with a book smiling.

Social Capital Makes People Feel Connected and Supported


Right alongside charity/generosity as an indicator of happiness is the unique element of social capital. Social Capital is the successful networks and relationships that a person has in their community that enable them to function on a high level. For example, if you get a job because you knew someone who worked in management, this is a kind of social capital. Social capital is very highly ranked among the happiest countries. It is one of the reasons why some countries have kept their high rating of happiness despite crises occurring within the country. The Czech Republic scored higher than the U.S.A for happiness, coming in 18th position on the index. That ranking is way higher than their income bracket because they generally have highly rated strong familial ties (a kind of social capital).


A photo of many hands touching in a circle.
A photo of many hands touching in a circle.

Our Greatest Form of Wealth is Each Other


Money helps in finding happiness but what is just as important is our sense of connection to and support of each other. A community enables us to help people in a way we would not be able to by ourselves. Maybe the greatest form of wealth and happiness is our connection, compassion, and care for each other, and by the looks of it, it certainly makes us happier.


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