Official: Money can buy you happiness (but only for £1m)

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The Independent Online

Misers and lottery winners rejoice. A 10-year study has confirmed what the underpaid and overworked majority always feared: money can buy happiness. The only problem is the price tag of £1m.

Economists at the University of Warwick believe they have found proof that filthy lucre can bring contentment when supplied in sufficient quantities.

An annual survey of 9,000 families started in 1991 has produced a league table of influences on Britons' sense of well-being, ranging from marital status to size of bank account. The researchers found a windfall of £1,000 temporarily produced a rosier outlook. But a serious cash injection was needed to secure true bliss.

Professor Andrew Oswald, who led the study, said: "We have found a strong link between an influx of money and an improvement in the average person's happiness and psychological health.

"There is a sliding scale of windfall and psychological benefit. We calculate that to turn a normal Briton into a very happy one by means of money alone, it would take a minimum of £1m."

The answer to the question "what price happiness?" was arrived at using evidence from families who had received windfalls of hundreds of thousands of pounds since 1991.

But before Britons turn to bank robbery or become workaholics, Professor Oswald emphasised that monetary wealth was far from being the sole or even best path to bliss. Despite decades of decline as an institution, marriage was found to bring greater happiness than money alone.

The real winner was good health, which was judged to be worth far more than a wheelbarrow of cash. Professor Oswald said: "It is a serious mistake to think that the main influence on happiness is money. It can bring some improvement but the really influential factors are a stable marriage and good health. At the opposite end of the scale, losing a job or getting a divorce are likely to have the most damaging effects on a person's outlook or well-being."

The study decided a happy marriage was worth about £70,000 a year and good health was worth £200,000 a year.