Money and Happiness


Happiness Index Analysis Nathan Aune | Cody Buchanan | Joseph Sumalbag We looked at the overall satisfaction of life right now in comparison with people from our class, Seattle University, University of Washington, and people with high and low levels of stress from their personal income levels. We found that the group with the highest level of overall satisfaction, from a scale of 1-10, with life right now is the people with the least amount of stress from their personal incomes at a level of 7.87. The second highest overall satisfaction is actually our happiness class with a score of 7.64. Seattle University students come in at third with an overall satisfaction level of 7.38. University of Washington students have an overall level of satisfaction with their lives at a score of 5.97. The lowest group of the overall level of satisfaction comes from the group with high stress from their level of income at a score of 4.2. As we can see from the data, Seattle university students have a much higher level of life satisfaction compared to students at University of Washington by over a full point. The most interesting part of this data has to be how the different levels of stress due to financial issues play such an important role in our satisfaction with our life. The people with the lowest amount of stress from their financial issues have a score of nearly 4 points higher than the people with extremely high levels of financial stress.
Before finding this data, we always knew that financial stress plays an important role in how satisfied people are in life. However, we did not think that money can influence people’s overall satisfaction as dramatically as this data shows. The first potential explanation for this difference is from the class discussion on what Notorious B.I.G said, “Mo’ Money equals Mo’ problems”, which we are going to translate to more income equals less happiness. We discussed how this was wrong because having more money opens doors to do things that other people with less money may not be able to do. For example, our friend has been raised with significantly more family money than most people I know. He has been raised to do whatever he wants and is always asking to go and do things or buy things. He is always in a good mood and lives a very satisfied life. He can buy or do whatever he wants because he has the money and does not have to worry about his financial situation. We know other friends that are in an opposite position and have a lot less money. They have to go to school and then go straight to work after just help pay for their housing and food. This money they make from work helps them stay afloat and in school. They have no extra money to go do things or buy whatever they want. They are constantly stressing about their financial situation and it causes their overall life satisfaction to decrease. However, these friends do not show how dis satisfied they actually are. They put on a smile, so people would never know how dissatisfied they truly are. Having more money causes less financial stress on people, which in turn does play a role in impacting people’s overall satisfaction with life. This ties into our second explanation of this data which is less about being able to buy things that then make you happy but instead the lack of being able to buy things or the constant focus on your negative financial status causes you to be blinded by the things in your life that would make you happy regardless of money. Things such as family, friends, and social interactions are all things that can make us very happy and don’t rely on monetary funds. Our theory is that we can become so consumed with our poor financial status that we use it as a reasoning to say everything in life at this moment is not how it should be. As college students is it easy for us to look at the way we are living and feel unhappy because our financial stability is not what we want it to be. Even though we may be working towards a stable life and we could be surrounded by good friends and fun times we still dwell on the stress that comes with financial insecurities. How we would propose to then test these theories farther and to find out which one carries a stronger weight will come from how much happier your experiences can be with more money and how much happier can you be when you take your financial hardships out of your evaluation process. Our suggestions include a social experiment in which a person is given a large budget to go enjoy a day in the city and then a much smaller budget the next day. Observations will be made about where the person decides to go, what they eat, the activities they perform, who they do them with, and the amount of social interactions they have. After each day they will be asked a series of questions to help us derive the amount of happiness they felt. Our proposal for our second explanation is simpler. We think you could get some good data from asking the respondent a series of questions that will paint a picture of their overall happiness in the moment. The first time they answer the survey we will ask them to choose their answers with completely ignoring their current financial status. The second time around we will ask them to then factor finances in and see how they evaluate aspects of their life then.

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Last updated December 24, 2018
Created December 24, 2018
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