For a long time, researchers believed that winning the lottery won’t make people happy and can even make them worse off at times. This became widely 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.
Economists, on the other hand, don’t agree with that belief. They have reason beyond just curiosity to care whether lottery winners are happier than the rest of us. They want to find out the correlation between higher income and happiness.
Several studies were presented, indicating that winning the lottery doesn’t have a significant effect on happiness. However, recent studies showed that the previous studies have no enough sample population to draw out reliable data. This is where Ostwald and Winkelmann’s study enters.
“We have access to more winners with economically substantial winning amounts than almost any other study before us,” Oswald and Winkelmann argue. In part because people keep winning the lottery, the high-quality data from Germany used for many of these studies now has 617 lottery winners with significant earnings. (The country keeps good records on this.) That’s still not a very large sample size for complicated social science research, but it’s a whole lot better than 22, or even 137. (Counting only winnings of more than 2,500 Euros ($2,770), Oswald and Winkelmann are down to 342 winners to analyze.)
Their study definitely showed that winning money actually make people happier. In totality, it looks like having more money makes people less stressed and more satisfied with their life.
Money might not buy happiness, but it buys a lot of things that make the pursuit of happiness easier.
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