.Money Can Kind Of Buy Happiness After All

Money Can Kind Of Buy Happiness After All

By Kelsey Piper  Sep 23, 2019, 8:00am EDT

It turns out money can kind of buy happiness after all

A new paper argues that, actually, winning the lottery totally does make you happy.

Does winning the lottery even make you happier? For a long time, researchers said no. Research hadn’t found any conclusive evidence that people who won large sums of money were happier afterward. There was even some evidence they were worse off.

This fact became widely known, partially because it’s so appealing to many people. It’s nice to think that life satisfaction isn’t just about how much money you have, that other things matter more, that we can’t solve all our problems with a sudden infusion of cash.

But there’s a problem with that research: It’s probably wrong. At least, that’s what is argued by economists Andrew J. Oswald and Rainer Winkelmann at the University of Warwick in the new academic book The Economics of Happiness.

Their chapter in the book makes the case that past research about the lottery was badly designed, which is why it found the counterintuitive conclusion that lottery winnings don’t make us happy, instead of the much more boring truth: They totally do.

Economists have good reason — beyond just curiosity — to care whether lottery winners are happier than the rest of us. Lottery winners represent a great chance to explore whether increases in income make people happier.

We know that there’s a well-established association between higher income and happiness, but it can be tricky to say for sure that it’s the higher income that causes happiness.

 Maybe happier people earn more money, or depressed people tend to earn very little money, or people with some general quality of life successfulness will be both happy and rich.

Lottery winners are selected at random, so they can help answer this question for us: Does money cause happiness?

Here’s what we know about the effects of lottery winnings

The first paper to take a serious look at the happiness of lottery winnings was a 1978 paper by Philip Brickman and colleagues, titled “Lottery winners and accident victims: Is happiness relative?”

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