Money can actually buy happiness, study suggests

There is a class divide when it comes to happiness, results show

A recent study revealed financial success has become increasingly linked to happiness, effectively going against the old adage that "money can't buy happiness."

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Expanding Class Divide in Happiness in the United States found the correlation between socioeconomic status, which includes income, education and occupational prestige, and happiness steadily increased between the 1970s and 2010s among adults who were at least 30 years old.

"The happiness-income link has gotten steadily stronger over the decades -- happiness is more strongly related to income now than it was in the 1970s and 1980s. So money buys happiness more now than in the past," the lead author of the paper, Jean Twenge, told FOX Business.

The study, published last week in the journal Emotion, based its findings on data gathered from the General Social Survey, which is one of the longest-running nationally representative surveys of U.S. adults. The survey covered 44,198 U.S. adult participants between 1972 and 2016.

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The results indicated, however, that there is a class divide when it comes to happiness. While the happiness of white adults with a high socioeconomic status, which includes income, education and occupational prestige, remained fairly stable, the happiness of white adults with a lower socioeconomic status steadily declined, according to the study.

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By comparison, happiness among black adults with lower socioeconomic status remained fairly stable, whereas the happiness of black adults with a high socioeconomic status increased.

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Researchers divided participants into groups based on income and asked them the following questions: “Taken all together, how would you say things are these days? Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?" according to the Washington Post.

Researchers then analyzed how the participants within each group answered that question over several decades.

In 2016, adults who were among the highest earners were 5 percent more likely to proclaim that they were “very happy” compared to participants in the second-highest income group, the Post explained.

However, there was no evidence to suggest that happiness diminishes after a certain income point, Twenge noted.

"Unlike some previous studies that found happiness leveled off after a yearly income of $75,000, we found that happiness kept going up with more income, even at higher income levels," Twenge said.

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