| 3.7°C Dublin

The Pursuit of happiness


Library Image

Library Image

Library Image

We've been told that money can't buy happiness -- so should we trust a new study that says it can, asks Deirdre Reynolds

Can't buy me love? Perhaps not, but you can buy happiness, according to a new study which claims that money tops our list of 'favourite things'.

"What [the report] shows is that people on higher incomes are happier than those on lower incomes," says Mark Littlewood, director of the Institute of Economic Affairs. "I think most economists would accept that there is a declining marginal rate, though. Obviously a multibillion-pound hedge-fund manager would not be made much happier by a £500 bonus, whereas you or I might."

The 250-page report entitled ... And the pursuit of happiness: Wellbeing and the Role of Government was carried out in response to a UK government policy that seeks to supplement 'Gross Domestic Product' with a 'General Wellbeing Index' as a measure of the country's success. However, the results are unlikely to make Prime Minister David Cameron very happy.

Launching his "happiness agenda" in 2010, Cameron explained: "We will start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving; not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life."

With everyone from Jesus Christ to Judy Garland offering advice on how to 'Get Happy' down through the years, though, measuring contentment may prove even more difficult than rebalancing the economy.

Already the latest findings contradict those of Professor Richard Easterlin -- who discovered in 1974 that rich nations are no happier, on average, than poor ones where basic needs were met.

In fact, not even the super-rich are any happier than the rest of us, according to a Princeton University study, which found that satisfaction rises alongside salary, but levels off at around €70,000.

So what is it that accounts for happiness? We asked some well-known people what makes them smile ...

Irish Independent