Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Financial security, more than money alone, may be key to happiness

19.03.2009
Points to government policies supporting safety nets

A study of the mental state of the modern American woman by a Princeton University psychologist has found a powerful link between concerns over financial security and satisfaction with one's life.

In looking toward the future, women who concentrated much of their thinking on financial matters were much less likely to be happy with their lives, according to Talya Miron-Shatz, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton. And, contrary to expectations, many of those with such worries had plenty of money by conventional standards, she said, suggesting that there is more at play in obtaining peace of mind than simply having cash.

"Even if you are making a hundred grand a year, if you are constantly worried that you are going to get fired, that you are going to lose your health insurance or that you are simply not sure you are going to 'make it,' you are not going to be happy," Miron-Shatz said. Such concerns, she found, affected a wide variety of women at all income levels.

Conversely, those who didn't fixate on finances like retirement savings, tuition for college or simply making ends meet, reported being the happiest of the group.

The study was published Feb. 25 in Judgment and Decision Making, a scholarly journal. Miron-Shatz is hoping the results might guide policy decisions, especially those being devised by President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress in the wake of today's financial crisis. Her work would favor a focus on strategies that create social and financial "safety nets" over measures that would directly increase income.

To understand how income and concerns over financial security may relate to a person's satisfaction with life, Miron-Shatz conducted two separate studies of a representative sample of nearly 1,000 American women of various ages and incomes. In one study, she showed that considerations of financial security were as important to the study subjects as their monetary assets.

She asked subjects in the second study to think about the future in an open-ended manner. Those who did so and mentioned financial concerns -- retirement, college tuition, making ends meet, etc. -- were less satisfied with their lives, she found, than those who did not raise such concerns. One of her participants said that when thinking of her future she wondered, "Will I be happy and financially stable?" The stability, Miron-Shatz says, is crucial. "It's not about greed," she added. "It's about knowing whatever it is you have, be it your McMansion or your motor home, won't be taken away from you."

Discussions about wealth need to be expanded to include this notion of financial security, she said, and though valid and meaningful, this factor is "glaringly missing from economic discussions," she said in her paper's introduction.

Psychologists have long sought to understand the connection between money and happiness.

Though the popular conception has been that "money can't buy happiness," studies have shown that wealth can play a role in enhancing happiness. Yet, wealth itself has been poorly defined in studies. And, contributing to this complicated relationship is what Princeton Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman has called the "satisfaction treadmill." In pioneering studies of human happiness, Kahneman, the Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Psychology, has found that satisfaction does not necessarily increase in a corresponding amount with an improved financial status.

Miron-Shatz is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Kahneman, a psychologist who has pioneered the integration of research about decision-making into economics and won the 2002 Nobel Prize in economic sciences. Miron-Shatz's paper grew out of her work with Kahneman, who is her adviser.

Kitta MacPherson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.princeton.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>