Happiness and personal wealth: An updated research synthesis using an online findings archive

Ruut Veenhoven, A Jantsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contributionAcademic

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QUESTION: How does personal wealth work out on ones happiness? Understanding of the effects of personal wealth on happiness is required for informed decision making in matters of saving and consumption.
METHOD: In order to answer the question of how and to what extent personal wealth relates to happiness, we take stock of the available research findings on this issue, covering 198 findings observed in 123 studies. We use a new method of research synthesis in which research findings are described in a
comparable format and entered in an online findings archive, the ’World Database of Happiness’, to which links are made from this text. This technique allows a condensed presentation of research findings while providing readers access to full details.
RESULTS: We found mostly positive relationships between assets and happiness, and negative relationships between debt and happiness. The few longitudinal studies suggest a causal effect of wealth on happiness. We found little difference across methods used and populations studied. Together, the available research findings imply that building wealth will typically add to happiness. However, the
average effect sizes are small with an average of 0.11 for total assets and -0.21 for total debts.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherErasmus Happiness Economics Research Organization (EHERO)
Number of pages43
Place of PublicationRotterdam
VolumeWorking paper 2021-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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