A recent study published by nature.com has attempted to answer one of life’s most pressing questions: can happiness be bought?

The study is based on a global survey conducted as part of the Gallup World Poll, and approached 1.7 million people across the globe. The participants had to rate their happiness based on their current household income, as well as other social-economic factors such as their gender and marriage-status, on a scale from 1 to 10.

As predicted, happiness ratings rose in relation to how much money the participant earned, but those with higher household incomes reported lower happiness ratings.

The study called this the ‘satiation’  or ‘satisfaction’ point: the level where a person was sufficiently satisfied so that no matter how much more they earned, it did not significantly impact how happy they were.

The report found that most people are satisfied at R1.13 million per year. Emotional satisfaction comes at between R710 000 and  R890 000 per year.

“However, there is substantial variation across world regions, with satiation occurring later in wealthier regions. We also find that in certain parts of the world, incomes beyond satiation are associated with lower (levels of happiness),” researchers said.

Earning too much money can affect your happiness as well, as a higher workload means less free time to enjoy your wealth. The study also showed that once basic needs are met, focus is shifted toward material gain and social status.

For overall happiness, the highest satiation points form two general clusters.

Levels of satiation across region, gender and education (courtesy of nature.com)

According to the survey’s researchers, there is substantial variation across the globe. Satisfaction is reached later in life in the world’s wealthier regions. In other parts of the world, earning too much income is associated with lower levels of happiness. Earning too much money can affect overall happiness, as it often involves a higher workload and less free time.

The regions with the highest satiation levels are:

Western Europe
North America
East Asia
North Africa
The Middle East
New Zealand

The regions with the lowest satiation levels are:

Latin America
The Carribean
Sub-Saharan Africa
Eastern Europe
The Balkans
Southeast Asia

South Africa falls into the lowest satiation category, with many South Africans stating that they would be happier if they earned R1-million per year. However, the regional average income currently stands at R475 000.

To view the study directly, go to https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0277-0

Picture: Unsplash

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.