Lynette Dufton
2 min readMar 10, 2023

“Money can’t buy happiness.” (But it can certainly rent it). That has been my simplistic view. Now there is scientific analysis of the relationship between wealth and happiness.

Matthew Killingsworth, Happiness Researcher and Senior Fellow at Penn’s Wharton School found that happiness increases with income up to $400 K. After that it leveled off. We must believe Matthew. Anyone who rose through the ranks of “Happiness Researchers” at Donald Trump’s alma mater to become a “Senior Fellow” must be heard.

Science requires peer review and repeatability of results. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winning economist and psychologist did a similar Wealth vs. Happiness study in 2010. Daniel found that happiness plateaued at $75 K annual income.

Science is not politics. When scientists disagree, they don’t refuse to raise the Debt Ceiling and bankrupt the country. They join in a collaborative study to discover the truth. Matthew and Daniel gave a smartphone app to 33,391 American adults. The app “pinged” the adults at random intervals asking them to rate “how they feel” from “very bad” to “very good”. Happiness Rating was cross-referenced against income level.

The results favored Matthew’s hypothesis over Daniel’s. Happiness increased with wealth up to $400 K and never plateaued. Daniel got his due though. About 20% of participants were unhappy whether they earned $10 K or $400 K. They were a bit less unhappy once they earned over $100 K but not by much. Daniel unfortunately surveyed the “You kids get off my lawn or I’ll call the cops” demographic.

By the way, how do I get a job as a “Happiness Researcher”? I would compare public opinion on two descriptions of “Happiness” from my youth:

Charles Schulz’s “Happiness is a warm puppy”

John Lennon’s “Happiness is a warm gun”

By Ed Dufton



Lynette Dufton

These posts are written by my father, Ed Dufton, who has an incredible knack of condensing the day’s news into a witty and insightful commentary on society.