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Can money bring happiness? © iStock

Can money bring happiness?

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The BBC Science Focus team considers how much joy wealthiness can truly bring and whether being poor makes you unhappy.

Asked by: Charlotte Taylor, Bournemouth


No. In fact, a 2014 study at the University of California, Berkeley found that being very rich or very poor were both associated with higher levels of mental illness. This doesn’t necessarily mean that money (or the lack of it) drives you mad.

The study found that those at risk of bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder tended to be more proud of their achievements and more determined to pursue power at the expense of personal relationships. These are people who are more likely to make a lot of money, but if their personality disorder gets the better of them, they can also end up unemployed or bankrupt.

Several studies have also looked at the long-term happiness of lottery winners and found that it didn’t improve much. Sudden wealth can actually prevent you from enjoying the simple things you used to, like hearing a good joke or watching TV.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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