$82,000 Is The ‘Perfect Salary For Happiness’

$82,000 Is The ‘Perfect Salary For Happiness’

According to a study focusing on 450,000 Americans and how they evaluate their happiness, a salary of $US75,000 ($82,000) a year is the magic number after which people’s day-to-day happiness no longer improves.

The special number is the result of a study conducted by psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton. From the Wall Street Journal:

It turns out there is a specific dollar number, or income plateau, after which more money has no measurable effect on day-to-day contentment.

The magic income: $US75,000 a year. As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises. Until you hit $US75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness.

That doesn’t mean wealthy and ultrawealthy are equally happy. More money does boost people’s life assessment, all the way up the income ladder. People who earned $US160,000 a year, for instance, reported more overall satisfaction than people earning $US120,000, and so on.

So, according to their numbers, you won’t be any happier on a day to day basis if you’re making $US75,000 or $US750,000 — though you’ll likely feel like you’ve got a better life overall. Knowing that, however, may help you appreciate the salary you have, especially if you’re pulling in over the magic number. Photo by Nick Ares.

The Perfect Salary for Happiness: $US75,000 [WSJ]


  • Of course Americans pay much less tax and have a lower cost of living than Australians so just using an exchange rate conversion doesn’t work. The figure for Australians might be much higher than $85k.

  • I wonder if this number is calculated per person or per household.

    Don’t quote me on this but do I remember an Australian Study that was done in the last 5 or so years that said something like 32K a year for each adult in the household was the happiness threshold.

  • $82k and being able to enjoy it. eg. not working 50+ hour weeks, having good holidays, partner not blowing it all etc.
    I know plenty of people who earn well over $100k and they complain non stop about no time and that they dont earn enough. I want to punch them in the balls.

  • Hmm… the difference between $80k and $100k might not make me happier, but I think if I was earning $1.5 million a year my happiness level would be a LOT higher than at $80k. 😀

  • Consumer choice theory.

    It all depends on peoples time value of money, and what they are willing to part with. I know many wealthy friends who’s idea of a good night out is hitting the nightclubs spending $150/night. I also have poorer friends who’s idea of a good night out is spending maybe $30 on beer at their local cheap bar. It all depends on preferences.

    Also, I don’t think anyone can argue with the idea that they want to want to be more socialist. I wish that I gained more happiness from donating $40 to charity than I do from buying a bottle of Canadian Club or going out for a meal with friends. I want to want to do that, but I can’t simply because of the consumerist nature that I’ve been brought up on. (Doing an economics degree doesn’t help either, it teaches selfishness)

  • Depends on family, bills and other factors. If you have no monthly or yearly debt than 82k is more than enough to live well. This is what I make and with daycare and othr bills along with my wife’s income it feels like your everyday life.

Log in to comment on this story!