Economics of Happiness

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The results are in: money can buy happiness, but it doesn't come cheap. Not only that, the amount of happiness your money can buy can be measured. I know this runs contrary to everything we've ever heard since childhood about money—"It can't buy happiness, it can't buy health, and it can't buy love." But the facts don't support this. First, according to surveys, the rich are more optimistic about their lives. Optimism is a major factor in happiness. Second, medical evidence shows those with more money live longer, healthier lives than those with less. There are always the stories featuring the rich kid who rebelled and died of an overdose or the monied uncle who had a heart attack while living the high life, but on average, those with more money live longer and healthier lives. Not only that, but despite all the food they can buy with their loot, the rich tend to be thinner than the poor, another sign of good health. In the Whitehall Survey, conducted at University College London, 17,000 civil servants have been followed. All are well educated and have the same access to health care. Yet the clerks at the bottom of the income scale have triple the mortality rate as those at the top. A U.S. study involving 300,000 men, called the Multiple Risk Intervention Factor, discovered every income class was healthier than the classes below them and sicker than the ones above. Third, a 1998 survey conducted by the magazine Town & Country shows people with more money tend to have better marriages, are happier with the friends they make, and find their jobs more interesting. I know we've been told different. But it ain't true. Sorry. These studies come as no surprise to me. Over the years I've said, quite frankly, I believe money can buy happiness. My comment is usually greeted with raised eyebrows and insinuations there's something morally wrong with me. In ensuing discussions I've tried to explain that it's not like you can go to the market and buy two pounds of...
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