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

Antje Jantsch and Ruut Veenhoven
EHERO working paper 2021-4

Question: How does personal wealth work out on ones happiness? Understanding of the e ects of
personal wealth on happiness is required for informed decision making in matters of saving and
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 ndings on this issue, covering 198 ndings observed in
123 studies. We use a new method of research synthesis in which research ndings are described in a
comparable format and entered in an online ndings archive, the 'World Database of Happiness', to
which links are made from this text. This technique allows a condensed presentation of research ndings
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 e ect of wealth
on happiness. We found little di erence across methods used and populations studied. Together, the
available research ndings imply that building wealth will typically add to happiness. However, the
average e ect sizes are small with an average of 0.11 for total assets and -0.21 for total debts.
Keywords: life satisfaction, consumption, savings, assets, debt, wealth, research synthesis.

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