Happiness is all about earning more than pals

Last Updated: Dec 14, 2010, 18:06 PM IST

London: Money can buy you happiness, only if you earn more of it than your friends, scientists say.

A study of life satisfaction in dozens of countries found that contrary to popular perception, economic growth doesn`t bring with it a corresponding long-term rise in happiness.

While people may feel more positive in the short-term, the shine quickly wears off, found the study by researchers from University of Southern California.

However, they found that the rich are happier than the poor within an individual country, the Daily Mail reported. This implies that what matters is earning more than others, not the actual amount earned, said Professor Richard Easterlin, who led the study.

Professor Easterlin first coined the theory in the 1970s which became known as the Easterlin Paradox. With several recent studies challenging his findings, Professor Easterlin again set out to examine if this pattern still exists.

After crunching together figures from 37 countries around the globe including burgeoning economies such as China, South Korea and Chile, the University of Southern California professor said little had changed.

He said: "Simply stated, the happiness-income paradox is this: at a point in time both among and within countries, happiness and income are positively correlated.

"But, over time, happiness does not increase when a person`s income increases."

He added: "China`s growth rate implies a doubling of real per capita income in less than 10 years, and Chile`s in 18 years.

"Yet both China and Chile show mild declines in life satisfaction."

Professor Easterlin`s findings appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

PTI