Does Money = Happiness across the Globe?

May 24, 2013

Does Money = Happiness across the Globe?

In the 1970’s an economist, Richard Easterlin, suggested that having more money did not always increase a person’s happiness. Easterlin found that in order for person to earn more money, they experienced more stress, time demands, and, in many cases, the additional money prompted additional economic desires.  Thus, money did not equate to happiness. This was known as the Easterlin Paradox.

A recent study focusing on the same topic actually has prompted many to reconsider Easterlin’s hypothesis.  Economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers found that for people who live in relatively poor countries, additional money actually did mean more happiness and satisfaction.  The new twist, however, involves those living in richer countries.  It seems that money is leading to happiness all across the globe.

money happiness

(Click on the graph to view a short clip on CNN.)

Nationmaster ( allows you to create maps, exam graphs, and explore data related to this question whether there is a geography to the relationship between money and happiness in the world.

Another excellent resource to examining the geography of happiness in the world can be found at the Happy Planet Index website  (  a project of the new economics foundation where countries are ranked based on a composite index of three variables–life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint.  The data can be viewed on  a map or in table form.