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Money cannot buy total happiness

Money can buy you security but not excitement, a new study claims.

A worldwide survey of happiness of more than 100,000 people has shown that there is a link between feelings of security and income but not between money and fun.

The new analysis, which has samples of people covering 96 per cent of the planet, found that life satisfaction, rises with personal and national income.

But positive feelings, like having fun and enjoyment, are much more strongly associated with other factors, such as feeling respected, being independent, having friends and working at a fulfilling job.

"The public always wonders: Does money make you happy?" said Professor Ed Diener, a psychologist at the University of Illinois.

"This study shows that it all depends on how you define happiness, because if you look at life satisfaction, how you evaluate your life as a whole, you see a pretty strong correlation around the world between income and happiness.

"On the other hand it's pretty shocking how small the correlation is with positive feelings and enjoying yourself."

The findings, from an analysis of data gathered in the first Gallup World Poll, appear in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The poll of 136,000 people covered a wide range of subjects in a representative sample of people from 132 countries from 2005 to 2006.

The poll used telephone surveys in more affluent areas, and door-to-door interviews in rural or less-developed regions.

The countries surveyed represent about 96 per cent of the world's population, the researchers report, and reflect the diversity of cultural, economic and political realities around the globe.

This "first representative sample of planet earth," the authors wrote, "was used to explore the reasons why 'happiness' is associated with higher income."

The researchers were able to look at a long list of attributes of respondents, including their income and standard of living, whether their basic needs for food and shelter were met, what kinds of conveniences they owned and whether they felt their psychological needs were satisfied.

This is the first "happiness" study of the world to differentiate between life satisfaction, the philosophical belief that your life is going well, and the day-to-day positive or negative feelings that one experiences, Prof Diener said.

"Everybody has been looking at just life satisfaction and income," he said.

"And while it is true that getting richer will make you more satisfied with your life, it may not have the big impact we thought on enjoying life."

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]