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If money can buy happiness, a new survey suggests each generation may have a different idea of what that price tag would be

In August 2023, Empower, a financial services company, in collaboration with The Harris Poll, conducted a survey involving 2,034 Americans aged 18 and older to explore their views on financial happiness. The survey revealed that 59% of participants believe that happiness can indeed be purchased, and on average, they considered $1.2 million in savings as the benchmark for financial contentment.

When breaking down the annual income needed for happiness, the survey showed distinct variations among different generations, as well as between genders:

Gen Z: Requires an annual income of $128,000 and a net worth of $487,711.
Millennials: Need $525,000 annually with a net worth of $1,699,571.
Gen X: Suggest $130,000 yearly income and a net worth of $1,213,759.
Boomers: Estimate $124,000 annually and a net worth of $999,945.
Men reported needing $381,000 per year, while women said $183,000 would suffice.

The survey also acknowledged that responses were open-ended, which allowed for potentially skewed results from extreme answers. Interestingly, only 17% of respondents equated “financial happiness” with reaching a specific net worth, and less than two-thirds believed money could truly buy happiness.

Renowned psychologist and economist Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize laureate, has extensively studied the correlation between income and happiness. His research in 2023 indicated that happiness tends to increase with income up to at least $500,000 annually, suggesting a complex relationship between earnings and emotional well-being.

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