Danny Kahneman and Angus Deaton polled 450,000 Americans (2008-2009) and measured two kinds of happiness:
- Emotional well-being (EWB) refers to the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience – “the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant”
- Life evaluation or “the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it”
They found that:
1) EWB increases with your income but starts to level off after $75,000.
“Perhaps $75,000 is a threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals’ ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure,” the authors write.
2) “Life evaluation” column continues to to grow with salary
They asked to evaluate participants their life on a ladder numbered from 0 to 10 and the bottom is the worst possible life and the top is the best. Those with a higher income reported higher life satisfaction than those with a lower income.
So there is a mismatch between how we’re evaluating our real life and how we’re actually feeling.
“Giving people more income beyond $75000 is not going to do much for their daily mood … but it is going to make them feel they have a better life,” Professor Deaton said in an interview.