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Good Grief this is howling nonsense from Arwa

Unless you’re a yacht-dwelling billionaire with an army of nannies, none of this is really news. Most people are well aware that there’s a cost of living crisis, that prices of everyday essentials are out of control and that not having to stress about how to pay bills is good for your mental health. Still, while this study’s conclusions may seem obvious, I think it serves as an important corrective to a narrative that a lot of people in power have been trying to push. It’s funny how a lot of obscenely rich people are fixated on trying to tell everyone else that money doesn’t make you happy. See, for example, the CEO of Google recently telling all his employees that “having fun … shouldn’t always equate to money” after cutting staff benefits. It is very convenient to pretend that money isn’t important when you’re busy trying to hoard a lot of it yourself.

This the result of this:

News just in: money does buy you happiness. Duh, you might say. Anyone could have told you that; it’s hardly a Nobel-prize winning insight. Well, actually, it kinda is: in 2010, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel prize-winning economist and psychologist, came out with the theory that there was a monetary “happiness plateau”. Once you hit an annual household income of $75,000 (£62,000), earning more money didn’t make you any happier. In 2021, the happiness researcher Matthew Killingsworth released a dissenting study, showing that happiness increased with income and there wasn’t evidence of a plateau. Now the pair have teamed up in a process known as “adversarial collaboration” and released a new study finding that they were both sort of right, but Killingsworth was more right: for most people, earning more money makes you happier.

But it’s never been a right wing contention that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s a left wing contention. As evidenced by Polly Toynbee columns over the years, M’Lud Layard’s work, The Spirit Level and the Easterlin Paradox. Which is where the result that sure, even though greater fairness in the society reduces the growth of the society as a whole that doesn’t matter. For it’s fairness, not money, that makes us happy.

The right has been shouting that of course more makes you happier. That’s why we shouldn’t stunt the growth of the economy by worrying too much about fairness. Because while greater fairness does indeed contribute – a bit at least – to happiness the rising tide lifting all boats matters more in the medium to long term.

So, a little poll. This is breathtaking swerve or simple ignorance at play here?

27 thoughts on “Good Grief this is howling nonsense from Arwa”

  1. a Nobel prize-winning economist and psychologist,
    That’s supposed to impress? Pah! Rich economist might.

  2. If you are desperate to fill column inches then anything will do. Even Left Wing concepts are a Right Wing plot – this is the Guardian after all. Right Wing governments are pure evil and Left Wing governments are not left wing enough. Whinge, whinge, whinge.

  3. Discovered Joys

    I agree.

    And needless to say, I’d argue that industrialisation driven by lovely, lovely coal was one of the best things that ever happened to the human race.

    One may note that the good old abos exterminated most of the mega-fauna in Oz before it could adapt to humanity and make a bloody nuisance of itself, as it does in Africa and Asia. But the damn crocodiles were too hard to kill.

    But the splendid old .303, produced by the UK armaments industry, mowed them down till the fools began to wail that they’d become extinct. As they should. The bloody things are now protected, and eating people again.

    Trust me. I’m much happier if a croc can’t eat me!!!

  4. An article about happiness in the Guardian. A journal that has taken miserableness about anything & everything to an artform.

  5. I’m pretty sure yacht dwelling billionaires stress about how to pay the bills. The difference between Jeff Bezos sitting on his yacht stressing about how to raise the funds to beat Musk to mars and the guardian columnist sitting in Stoke Newington stressing about how to pay for the villa in Tuscany are the same stresses with zeroes added.

  6. From “Operation Petticoat”

    As a kid, I was victim of the most vicious propaganda ever. People kept telling me that money wasn’t everything, and I believed it. Until I found out that the people who were saying that “money wasn’t everything,” were the people that had all the money. So I figured they were trying to hide a good thing.

  7. Lack of money can certainly make you very unhappy. Having money then lets you avoid being unhappy. The assumption these economists seem to be making is that nothing changes but of course circumstances do change and having money as a safety net is a very good thing.

    For instance, I live in the country where cycling is dangerous and walking is to all intents and purposes impossible. To get to the shops I need transport and have an old diesel car. If it broke I could buy another old car. Net Zero threatens this in the next few years- if I had more money I could go electric so that would lessen my unhappiness.

  8. £62000 in 2010 would be about £95000 today using official inflation stats although that’s just GBPifying a USian finding, given we’re taxed harder over here you would need more income to have the same purchasing ability. There is certainly a point at which other things are more important to happiness than additional income, and for a household with no dependents in a fairly affordable location, that figure looks quite reasonable as the one at which you might start trading extra income for, say, more free time. That number is obviously about personal utility as well as things like local cost of living — esp. housing — and the need to support dependents (or not).

    Of course, the leftie leap goes “there are things more important than money in determining happiness” to “money doesn’t determine happiness at all” which conveniently for them leads onto “we can steal your money”

  9. Who was it said that “Money can’t buy you love… But it can get you a very acceptable substitute”..? 🙂

  10. Block in Spain.

    Harking back to a previous thread – not just an art form; a subsidised art form.

    Every (rare) time one views The Grudgian website, there’s a begging missive asking for money for the poor strugglin’ “independent” journalists to help them get the TRUTH out.

  11. BB: I’ve eaten croc in Oz. I took great care they didn’t eat me. Those saltwater crocs are evil! There was a giant bastard at a place in Kuranda that had apparently eaten several of his mates…

  12. “This is breathtaking swerve or simple ignorance at play here?”

    It’s the Guardian; the way to bet is that it’s a combo of ignorance, stupidity, falsehood, envy, and bile.

  13. I find it hard to understand how the statement by Google CEO of “having fun … shouldn’t always equate to money” would imply either:
    – “trying to tell everyone else that money doesn’t make you happy”
    – “to pretend that money isn’t important when you’re busy trying to hoard a lot of it yourself”

    Basically the Google CEO is reminding his staff that they are being paid to do a job, not to have fun. This doesn’t imply that money does not make happy or that it isn’t important. On the contrary it implies that you need make money exactly because it’s important and can make you happy (outside work)

    Also, I have been fortunate enough to have surpassed annual household income of US$75k (both gross and net) having started out below that threshold. I can confirm that I’m happier with my salary now then I was before. I can also confirm that I need to make more money now than I did before as I have kids that I need to sustain. So the statement is bullshit

  14. I was relatively happy with my lot, until I read the results of Kahneman and Killingsworth’s latest collaboration in The Times on Monday. They now believe that real happiness requires an annual income of $500k (£416k). Left me quite deflated.

  15. Yes and no.

    There are very few practical problems that can’t be solved, or at least ameliorated, by throwing cash at them.

    Rich Billy NoMates is probably not going to be as happy as Popular Jimmy.

    The world ain’t binary. More of a good thing is usually a good thing. So, yes, money, but also plenty of good friends and a functional family.

  16. For every guardian reader whose anger was dissipating, who felt twinges of happiness, or experienced an incipient aura of contentment, the paper’s circulation would drop by one.

  17. “Money can’t buy you happiness but it does bring you a more pleasant form of misery.”

    “Money can’t buy you friends, but you do get a better class of enemy.”

    “All I ask is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.”

    – Spike Milligan

  18. DAvid got it right. Having enough money enables one to eliminate various causes of unhappiness: this not the same as buying one happiness (except for child longing for an ice-cream on a hot summer’s day).

  19. “If I had more money I could go electric so that would lessen my unhappiness”

    By the time the Net Zero nutters have had their way, electricity will be a scarce luxury, so you’ll probably need a generator to power the car you would be able to afford! Always assuming that
    fossil fuels haven’t been completely outlawed as well…

  20. Always assuming that fossil fuels haven’t been completely outlawed as well…

    When chip fat has been outlawed, we’ll know the UK govt has finally decided to get rid of Jockistan!

  21. . . . so you’ll probably need a generator to power the car you would be able to afford!

    There’s a “viral” picture supposedly from Ukraine; a Tesla with a generator hung on the back.

  22. Toward the end of my working life I was really hating my job. Once I had calculated that I had enough money in my pension fund to retire my happiness index improved a little. Once I actually retired it went through the roof.

  23. @ BiW – the other day our local “rag” had a story about increasing thefts of vegetable oil from catering premises. Lots of recommendations on how to secure your waste products, and ensuring collection services are genuine, but no mention of the most likely reason why these thefts are increasing!

    @PJF – there are numerous variations on that theme, and plenty more showing EV charge points sitting next to diesel generators, because the local grid couldn’t handle the load…

  24. “Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel prize-winning economist…”

    I guess that puts paid to the unquestioning reliance that some bloggers place on Nobel Laureates. Nordhaus for example. Or maybe it doesn’t. Some bloggers are set in their ways.

  25. @boganboy

    One may note that the good old abos exterminated most of the mega-fauna in Oz before it could adapt to humanity and make a bloody nuisance of itself, as it does in Africa and Asia. But the damn crocodiles were too hard to kill.

    But the splendid old .303, produced by the UK armaments industry, mowed them down till the fools began to wail that they’d become extinct.

    And yet the Emus still won their war with Her Majesty’s Australian Government…

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