According to the famous saying, money can’t buy happiness. However, can you imagine a person who is not ecstatic after winning a lottery? Money can help you to improve your life standard or fulfill your dreams, so it must have a certain influence on our well-being. People invest their funds in numerous lotteries in order to increase their chances of hitting the jackpot. In order to find out if winning money actually influences our happiness and to what extent, scientific research has been conducted over the years. Find out how did the results evolve as time went on!
1. You Will Not Become Happier
People tend to believe they will become happier after winning a lottery, so they invest their money in worldwide games, with the help of such agents like Lottery Critic. However, in an article posted by The Cut, we can read that in 1978 three researchers from the University of Massachusetts and Northwestern University studied two very different groups of people. First, there were Illinois State Lottery winners that got a prize counting between $50,000 and $1 million. The second group consisted of catastrophic accident victims who ended up with either paraplegia or quadriplegia. One of the things the scientists asked was to rate the level of pleasure they derive from enjoyable, simple activities like getting a compliment, talking to a friend, having a tasty meal, or laughing at a good joke. The results showed that the recent accident victims experience more happiness from such everyday pleasures than people who won the lottery.
The researches have concluded that the excitement of getting a significant financial prize eventually wears off. Furthermore, all the positive events happening afterward are judged in reference to this ecstatic experience, which is hard to beat. Also, lottery winners tend to get used to the additional pleasures provided by their financial gain, so they become less intensive and do not contribute to the overall happiness to any significant extent.
2. You Will Not Become Happier but More Satisfied
CNBC explains that winning 1$ billion does not directly affect your happiness, but it can increase your life satisfaction. Studies conducted by researchers from Stockholm in 2018 have shown that large prizes lead to the constant improvement of the winners’ general life satisfaction that lasts for more than ten years, and it doesn’t seem to weaken as time goes on. The leading researcher from the team, Robert Ostling, has clarified that “happiness” stands for respondents’ everyday feelings, while “life satisfaction” indicates how people feel about their overall life quality. For this reason, it is easier to influence life satisfaction than happiness.
The researchers supposed that winning a lot of money in a lottery is likely to affect mental health and happiness positively, but this assumption turned out to be false. Their studies have shown that in the case of those people who have won $100,000 or more, these two aspects weren’t influenced to any significant extent. Nevertheless, those respondents seem to enjoy the improvement of their financial situation for over a decade after getting the prize.
3. You Will Become Happier
As Vox reports, in 2019, two economists from the University of Warwick, Rainer Winkelmann and Andrew J. Oswald published an academic book entitled “The Economics of Happiness” which provided new evidence that winning money can actually make people happier. They researched a random sample of British people who won medium-sized prizes (between £1000 and £120,000, so approximately $200,000 maximum). When this group was compared to two different ones (with smaller wins and with no prizes at all), these people showed noticeable improvement in their psychological health. Even two years after this success, their mental well-being is still at a higher level. Winkelmann and Oswald claim that the previous studies about the impact of lottery winning on happiness were inappropriately designed, and for this reason, they provided wrong results.
The early research was an example of a common problem in social science – some studies are not powerful enough to discover effects even if there are some. Published studies tend to be underpowered because they consider too little data to determine the truth. It can result in false negatives, like the one saying that winning money does not increase happiness, or false positives when the insufficient sample generates noise that is claimed to be a positive result. Conducting research on a bigger scale is an excellent solution, but it requires more funds, so underpowered studies will probably continue to affect science at times.
Measuring happiness is particularly tricky because it is a very subjective issue. First, people need to be asked to determine their happiness levels themselves. Also, some objective induces should be taken into consideration, including political freedom, level of literacy, pollution level, income size, health care access, or the quantity of spare time. Apart from that, researchers use happiness indexes that combine traditional measurement standards with subjective surveys.
The issue of money winning and happiness is worth exploring for economists, not only because of curiosity. Namely, thanks to studying lottery winners, they can find out if income improvement can make people happier. We are all aware that better financial conditions must be associated with happiness, but it may be tricky to determine whether higher income results in happiness. Maybe depressed people usually earn less money, while happier ones earn more. Also, there are people who, due to some general quality of being successful in life, can end up both wealthy and happy.
Hitting the jackpot in a lottery is undoubtedly a breakthrough in our life. However, it is disputable if it really affects our overall happiness, or just life satisfaction, which are two separate terms. Scientists have been researching this subject for a long time, and their results evolved over the years. First, they came up with the idea that winning a lottery does not affect your life happiness, but later, other researchers achieved opposite results. On the one hand, it can mean that the previous study was not correctly conducted, but on the other hand, it can indicate that maybe people are more materialistic nowadays, so getting a lot of extra money to follow all the present trends makes them happier than in the past.