Can money make us happy?

One big argument for slowing down and working less is that more money doesn’t always make us happier. The roots of this thinking lie in a 1974 study by Richard Easterlin at the University of Southern California. He found that the happiness of a nation’s inhabitants rises in tandem with growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but only up to a certain point. Thereafter, getting richer stops making us any happier. This, of course, calls into question our obsession with maximizing economic growth. But over the last 30 years the boom in happiness studies has encouraged other academics to revisit the data. Apparently, two researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are about to publish a comprehensive survey of the literature which shows that happiness and per capita GDP continue to rise more or less in unison. In other words, making more money does make us happier. I haven’t read the study yet, but already it raises some intriguing questions. What does it mean for the Slow revolution if working longer and earning more does in fact make us happier? How much does our happiness depend on the kind of work that we do? Do we need to build other criteria, such as health, education and the environment, into any measure of economic growth? How do we even define happiness? Lots to think about here….