UK Study Says Higher Income Leads to Lesser Happiness

January 19, 2014

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. equate /ɪˈkweɪt/ (v.) – to be the  same as something
Example: Being wealthy does not always equate to being happy.

2. peak /pik/ (n.) – highest or topmost
Example: With good number of customers, the company is at its peak.

3. decline /dɪˈklaɪn/ (v.) – to be lesser in quality
Example: Sales declined due to economic crisis.

4. aspiration /ˌæspəˈreɪʃən/ (n.) – great desire for something
Example: To be rich is an aspiration of many.

5. pursuit /pərˈsut/ (n.) – to try to get or achieve something
Example: The pursuit of happiness is not easy.


Read the text below.
Higher income does not always equate to a happier lifestyle, said economists.

A study by economists from Warwick University and University of Minnesota shows how income affects contentment in life. Eugenio Proto and Aldo Rustichini [roos-tee-KEE-nee] worked on discovering a certain income amount that matches the peak of one’s life satisfaction. Both claim that getting beyond this amount will lead to a situation where fulfillment in life declines.

According to the researchers, an individual income of $36,000 (£22,000) yearly offers the highest level of life satisfaction. Going beyond it can make people less contented due to changes in life aspirations.

Proto and Rustichini used surveys and Gross Domestic Product data to know how income and happiness are linked to each other. States with $18,000 yearly income per person had higher life satisfaction compared to nations with $6,700 per capita income. But when countries with $20,000 per capita income were compared to those reaching $54,000, the difference in their life satisfaction levels was minimal.

When the economy continues to grow in already wealthy countries, its citizens desire for more than what their current financial situation offers. As the economists observed, the continuous pursuit of getting richer lowers a person’s satisfaction level.

Proto claimed that as people get richer their desires in life become more unstable because of many chances and possibilities now available to them, thus affecting their enjoyment.

But Philip Booth, editorial director at Institute of Economic Affairs, is one of few critics who doubt the study’s findings. He believed that an increased income should always result to a happier life.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree that life satisfaction lessens as one gets richer? Why or why not?
·         What are the other sources of life satisfaction besides money?

Discussion B

·         Do you believe that money can buy happiness? Please explain.
·         Why do you think some rich people are still unhappy?


January 19, 2014