Money may be able to help people pay off sadness, but it still cannot buy happiness.
Kostadin Kushlev, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia (UBC) who conducted the research, suggests that money can be used as an effective tool to reduce sadness, but it does not enhance happiness.
A previous study conducted by economist Richard Easterlin also asserted that money cannot buy happiness.
Easterlin pointed out in his study released in 2010 that the per capita income in South Korea, Chile and China doubled in the less than 20 years. However, in that period Chile and China showed slight statistically decline in life satisfaction.
South Korea showed a mild increase in life satisfaction in 1980s but surveys conducted in 1990s through to 2005 showed slight decline in life satisfaction.
"Where does this leave us? If economic growth is not the main route to greater happiness, what is? We may need to focus policy more directly on urgent personal concerns relating to things such as health and family life, rather than on the mere escalation of material goods," said Easterlin.
Kushlev suggests that previous studies have extensively explored the connection between happiness and income. However, no study has been conducted at a large scale that analyzed the relation between sadness and money.
Kushlev suggests that a small home emergency may seem an inconvenience to a person who has money to fix the problem. However, a person who does not have sufficient money to address the emergency may find it difficult to deal with. He also adds that a wad of cash cannot comfort a person in case of a tragedy.
Kushlev's thesis involved studying U.S. census data of a survey in 2010 for 12,291 Americans. The survey recorded the respondent's income and their levels of happiness. Kushlev and his team marked down the happiness of each person and then compared to how much money they made. The psychologist suggests that his research found an association between high income and less sadness. However, high-income factor does not have any bearing on daily happiness.
"Happiness and sadness are distinct emotional states, rather than diametric opposites," says Kushlev.
The psychologist hopes that people enhance their understanding of what contributes to and results in happiness so that they can make better choices in life.