Imagine your ideal life – everything from where you live and the projects you will pursue during the holidays, the hobbies you will invest in, the food you will eat and the types of clothes you will wear.
How much money will it cost to fulfill all your desires?
That’s the core question of a study recently published in the journal Nature Sustainability, which asked 220 people in each of 33 countries how much money they needed to live their version of an ideal life. Based on that number, participants were asked to choose the prize they would win in a lottery, with options ranging from $10,000 on the low end to $100 billion on the high end – a huge sum, the study authors say is the same as unlimited money.
One might expect that most people would choose the $100 billion option with unlimited money. Finally, economics holds that people are inherently voracious when it comes to their consumption of goods and services, a notion that justifies the pursuit of sustained economic growth. Very wealthy people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are certainly interested in making more money even if they already have billions of dollars. Plus, the more money you have, the more options you have – so the possibilities are potentially endless even with unlimited money.
But this study suggests that most people don’t believe they need unlimited money to live the life of their dreams. Overall, the majority of study participants opted for the comparatively moderate (and purely hypothetical) price options of $1 million or $10 million. For a 38-year-old man with an average age of 78, the study finds that $1 million is just $25,000 a year.
Psychological researchers Paul Bain and Renata Bongiorno, who co-authored the paper, say the finding has important implications for how cultures generalize overconsumption.
Bain, the study’s lead author and a lecturer at the University of Bath in the UK, recently said, “The ideology of infinite desires, when portrayed as human nature, leads people to buy more than they actually want,” can be due to societal pressures generate for the press release. “Discovering that most people’s ideal life is actually quite liberal may make it easier socially for people to behave in ways that make them genuinely happy and lead to stronger policies to protect the planet.” ready.”
Does money buy happiness?
to be sure, some People in all countries wanted more and more money to fulfill their wishes. In one of two polls conducted for the experiment, 32% of Americans opted for $100 billion, compared to just 8% in China.
In the second poll, Indonesia was the country with the most people opting for the maximum, with 39%, while only 8% invested $100 billion in Russia.
Those who choose unlimited money are not necessarily motivated by selfishness or greed. The study did not provide a framework for what an ideal life might be like, leaving participants to choose whether to interpret the question to include altruistic goals or to focus on their personal fulfillment. . In fact, the authors note that those who made the unlimited choice were more likely than others to mention taking action on social issues, although overall both the unlimited and limited groups said they use the money for friends and family would.
The study builds on previous research that examined the relationship between money and happiness. Research suggests that, up to a point, more money is associated with more happiness. However, studies have also shown that there is a limit beyond which more money no longer leads to greater life satisfaction for the average person. (In the United States, this threshold is a household income of $105,000 per year.)
There is no doubt that having enough money to cover necessities such as food and shelter and provide basic financial security makes a huge difference to people’s happiness. After satisfying these basic needs, money can also increase happiness by helping us achieve our larger goals.
This new study suggests that for most of us, achieving even our wildest dreams doesn’t require the kind of money the world’s richest people hoard. Instead, the authors write, most people strive to be “comfortable but not extravagant.”