Why money doesn't buy happiness

Feb. 24, 2009 at 12:37 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Many believe more money will make people happier, however as societies grow richer, they don't necessarily become happier, a British researcher says.

Richard Layard of the London School of Economics says in the past 50 years individual levels of wealth have increased in many societies but so has crime, deprivation, depression and addictions to alcohol and drugs.

Layard is scheduled to speak at the first of three events Thursday organized by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the Festival of Social Science.

He says that when it comes to happiness many fail to take into consideration that if everyone gains purchasing power, some may still turn out unhappy if their position relative to others is worse and may diminish the benefits people draw from their hard work.

In an economy where people are constantly forced to compete with each other, life and work become a rat race, he says. As people get used to higher income levels, their idea of a sufficient income grows with their income and if this is not anticipated, they will invest more time for work than is good for their happiness.

Individual preferences are not fixed, he contends, but increasingly mutable shifting constantly according to the latest trends and cultural norms subjecting one's possessions to depreciation.

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