Can money buy happiness? Here’s the real score

Some people said money can’t buy happiness, but a new study from Purdue University proved otherwise.

Debt, however, should also be part of the money-happiness equation.

“There has been a lot of research looking at whether and how income makes people happy in life, but few studies have examined whether debt can detract from happiness,” Louis Tay, psychological sciences’ assistant professor, said in a statement.

“We found that carrying student loan debt is almost as important as income in predicting financial worry and life satisfaction,” said Tay, who looked into the effects of money and income on happiness.

The study collected data from 2,781 college alumni from the U.S. who graduated in 2008.

The graduates had been finishing off student loans for at least seven years.

Aside from these factors, Tay and his fellow researchers likewise examined the relationships between student loan amount, average household income, financial worry, and life satisfaction.

Results of the survey were based on the Gallup-Purdue Index that supplies a measure of the performance of college graduates on the five key scopes of wellbeing namely, community, financial, physical, social, and purpose.

He said that people always think of the amount of income they can earn, but the truth remains that there’s no guarantee of such post-college.

“There is a lot in the news about reducing, balancing or managing college student debt, and this study shows the burden it can take on one’s life for the long term,” he further said.

Future studies also need to assess other debt sources and the role of good vs. bad debt, among other things, said Tay.

Household and personal debts have been a major concern for many Americans, with household debt increasing from $8.29 trillion in 2004 to $12.29 trillion this year, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

The Journal of Happiness Studies published the study’s findings on the money-happiness equation.


NewsNarratives (formerly Wired Correspondence) aims to become an independent and progressive online magazine that will focus on underreported social issues and human interest stories in the Philippines and elsewhere written in narrative, longform journalism. We intend to extensively cover stories of people and communities whose struggles are left undercovered, unheard, or unaddressed by the governments or other institutions. But as a progressive publication, we focus less on what these institutions failed to do for them, rather focus more on what can still be done. Then again, it’s not all about the failures and struggles. We also want good stories that inspire and give hope. So, we will feature stories of people who won life’s struggles in hopes of learning from them and of ordinary individuals who are contributing extraordinary work whether to their family or community—yes, the many unsung heroes in our society. We aim to help and inspire people through our storytelling, by producing content that targets the heart to feel and provokes the brain to act on it—in a good way. We start all these in our own backyard, the Philippines, with a dream of pursuing elsewhere.

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