Money May Not Buy Happiness, But Study Says It Might Buy Less Stress


They say, “more money, more problems,” but in fact, the opposite might be true.

According to a study published by The Hamilton Project, income and health are becoming increasingly intertwined. The study shows that a higher income generally leads to less stress and a longer life.

Flickr Image Courtesy: Steven Depolo, CC BY-SA 2.0

Researchers looked at traditional health markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, kidney function and liver function. Body mass index (BMI) was also taken, and subjects were also able to self-report their health based on their perception of their own well-being.

The general population showed a strong correlation between personal health and wealth. The data was divided into three financial classes — low, middle and high — depending on the income reported by the subject.

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Those who reported themselves in good or excellent health were more likely to be in the higher financial brackets, the study found. This data confirmed another study done by The Hamilton Project in 1976, which said that wealth directly affects the stress levels, perceived health and even the likelihood of obesity.

While obesity has increased across America, the research shows obesity is more likely in lower financial classes. Similarly, stress has increased across the board, but primarily so in lower classes.

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The gap between the wealthy and unwealthy has grown much wider since the 1976 study, but the general consensus of the findings remains the same. Economic struggles present many hardships for Americans, while those with wealth do not experience the same difficulties. In addition, higher classes have more disposable income to spend on health-related activities, such as gym memberships and food delivery services. Low class individuals living in poverty, on the other hand, sometimes do not have access to healthy foods in their neighborhoods, thus causing more health issues and possibly leading to obesity.

However, another recent study suggests the notion that “healthy” foods have to be expensive is a myth.

Also of interest in the study was the fact that younger Americans were less likely than older age groups to report themselves as being in good or excellent health. The percentage of Americans ages 25-49 showed, in general, a 10 percent decrease. This may be due to the fact that the older generations (ages 50+) report higher income levels, while the average low class American is around 48 years old.