It looks to me like the researchers and reporters involved with this story were trying pretty hard to reach a conclusion that's contrary to the evidence. A recent study in New Zealand claims to have proven that money doesn't buy happiness, but...

"Only at very, very high levels does money actually have any impact to act as a buffer," said Deakin University researcher Liz Eckerman.

So, like money can't buy a Ferrari, money can't buy happiness... unless you've got a lot of money.

The findings, collated since 2001, show that while there are no extremes of well-being in Australia, the happiest areas had a lower population, more people aged 55 or over, more women, more married people and less income inequality. ...

"People in these rural electorates often have the advantage of additional disposable income since the cost of living, particularly housing, tends to be reduced outside the cities," he told The Australian newspaper.

So disposable income buys happiness? Anyone can have disposable income if they have enough money.

Anyway, it's conventional wisdom that money problems are a contributing factor to most divorces (though new research claims money problems aren't a good predictor for divorce). It's stressful to not have money available to do something you want to do or feel you need to do. Most people learn to adjust their wants and needs to their available resources, but giving up a desire is hard. Not to even mention the pride and comparison factor that causes most people to want to keep up with whoever their particular Jones is.

Having more money can relieve some of these stresses, at least up to a point. Having money available for the necessities of life -- food, shelter, clothing, medicine -- would certainly seem to contribute to happiness. But buying a second or third BMW would seem to produce happiness with quickly diminishing returns.

One of the most striking results of research into happiness is the realization that if money really can't buy happiness then many of the left's talking-points become compklete moot.

These findings underlie an astonishing conclusion from the new scientific pursuit of happiness. As the late New Zealand researcher Richard Kammann put it, "Objective life circumstances have a negligible role to play in the theory of happiness."(6) A society in where everyone lived in 4,000 square foot houses, people would likely be no happier than in a society in which everyone lived in 2,000 square foot houses.(7) Good events--a pay hike, winning a big game, an A on an important exam--make us happy, until we adapt. And bad events--an argument with one's mate, a work failure, a social rejection--deject us, but seldom for more than a few days.

What's more, it may not matter what happens to you or what you accomplish. It seems that most people have a baseline level of happiness that they return to regardless of the events in their lives. If you're always miserable then (assuming your basic needs are satisfied) the problem isn't your circumstances.

Clayton Cramer says that $5 million is enough.



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