This Is How Much Money You Need to Be Happy

Researchers just put a price on happiness. Here are the income levels you require to maximize your enjoyment of life.

This Is How Much Money You Need to Be Happy Photo by asife / Shutterstock.com

Happiness can be bought. In fact, recent research has even put a price on it.

A study published in the journal estimates that an annual income of $60,000 is the magic number globally.

Region by region, the estimated price of peak happiness varies from as little as $30,000 in Latin America and the Caribbean to as much as $110,000 in the Middle East and North Africa. Here in North America, happiness will run you $65,000 a year.

With incomes beyond these amounts, “there were no appreciable increases in [subjective well-being],” researchers wrote.

Putting a dollar amount on happiness

The study from the psychology departments of Purdue University and the University of Virginia is noteworthy for its scope. It’s based on data from more than 1.7 million people across 164 countries.

The researchers also took pains to measure well-being in detail.

The above dollar amounts are technically linked to what’s known as “positive affect.” It’s a component of well-being that researchers define by the emotional states of “happiness, enjoyment and smiling/laughter.”

The study authors measured positive affect using equivalized household income, which accounts for the number of people in a household. They note that past studies did not account for household size.

The above dollar amounts are all for one-person households. If your household is larger, the researchers say you would have to multiply by the square root of the number of people in your household.

For example, a four-person household in the U.S. would need to earn $130,000 per year to attain peak happiness. (The square root of four is two, so multiply $65,000 by two.)

What it means for you

If your household has yet to achieve the income this study says you’d need to maximize your happiness, don’t stress out too much. For starters, the researchers describe their dollar figures as estimates.

Also, falling short of those figures doesn’t mean happiness is completely unattainable. You just might not be quite as happy as you would be with a bigger paycheck.

Meanwhile, for help boosting both your paycheck and positive affect, check out “The 10 Commandments of Wealth and Happiness.”

What’s your take on the cost of happiness? Share your thoughts below or on .

Karla Bowsher
Karla Bowsher
I’m a freelance journalist and former newspaper reporter who has covered both personal and public finance. I've worked for a top 50 major metro daily and a community newspaper as well as ... More

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