Money CAN Buy You Happiness

Last Updated Jun 4, 2008 8:33 AM EDT

Money CAN Buy You HappinessNew research suggests that you can spend your way to happiness.

The catch (I mean the benefit for yourself and society) is that you have to spend it on others.

In an article for the journal Science, the researchers report:

Our findings suggest that very minor alterations in spending allocations -- as little as $5 in our final study -- may be sufficient to produce non-trivial gains in happiness on a given day.
Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and two colleagues from the University of British Columbia, Elizabeth Dunn and Lara Aknin undertook the research to understand the conundrum that although many of us work hard to make more money, more money does not make us happier.

In an interview this week in HBS Working Knowledge, Norton explains how and why the research was conducted.

Based on these findings, the researchers are now looking at ways companies can make employees happier while also promoting social giving. One idea, says Norton:

Many companies donate a lump sum to charities each year. Our research suggests that companies might think about splitting that money up among their employees and empowering them to choose the recipient of those donations.
(Happiness image by sciondriver, CC 2.0)
  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.