Researchers at Purde Univeristy, led by Andrew T. Jebb of the Department of Psychological Sciences, have analysed data representing more than 1.7 million people from over 160 countries world-wide to come up with the average figure.
"That might be surprising as what we see on TV and what advertisers tell us we need would indicate that there is no ceiling when it comes to how much money is needed for happiness, but we now see there are some thresholds," said Jebb. "It's been debated at what point does money no longer change your level of well-being.”
And the magic figure? According to the science, for complete emotional well-being, you’ll need to be pocketing an annual salary of $120,000 (converted from an average figure of US$75,000 identified in the study).
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“This amount is for individuals and would likely be higher for families,” explains Jebb, "and there was substantial variation across world regions, with satiation occurring later in wealthier regions for life satisfaction. This could be because evaluations tend to be more influenced by the standards by which individuals compare themselves to other people."
In a cruel twist of fate, the study found that if you earned over this threshold, happiness then decreased. The researchers suggest that this may be caused by desires to buy material items in a bid to compete in damaging social comparisons.
"At this point they are asking themselves, 'Overall, how am I doing?' and 'How do I compare to other people?'" Jebb said. "The small decline puts one's level of well-being closer to individuals who make slightly lower incomes, perhaps due to the costs that come with the highest incomes. These findings speak to a broader issue of money and happiness across cultures. Money is only a part of what really makes us happy, and we're learning more about the limits of money."
This article originally appeared on Men's Health