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有钱确实能买来幸福

Nin-Hai Tseng 2013年05月03日

普遍流行的理论认为,一旦收入超过某一临界值后,财富继续增加就无法再给人们带来更多的幸福感。但现在,一项最新的研究推翻了这观点。钱越多,人越幸福。

    人们总说金钱买不到幸福,但一项新的研究表明幸福也是可以买到的。实际上,一个人拥有的金钱越多,就会越幸福。

    这对一部分人来说可能是很明显的道理,但长期以来的研究都告诉我们幸福不仅是金钱的富足。早在上世纪70年代,经济学家理查德•伊斯特林就曾经指出,人们的幸福感并没有随着不断增加的人均收入而提高,这就是后来被人们所熟知的“伊斯特林悖论”(Easterlin Paradox)。这些年来,这个悖论逐渐演变成一种新的观念:金钱确实能买到幸福,只是一旦收入能满足购买衣服和食物之类的必须品时,它对幸福的影响便开始慢慢降低。

    这个观念渐渐流行开来,但从来没有得到过严谨的证明。

    如今,美国密歇根大学(University of Michigan)的经济学家贾斯廷•沃尔弗斯和贝齐•史蒂文森研究了超过150个国家的数据,数据来源包括世界银行(World Bank)和盖洛普世界民意调查(Gallup World Poll)。这对夫妻档研究发现,无论人们目前是贫穷或富裕,他们都觉得财富越多越幸福。与先前研究相反的是,他们发现并不存在使幸福感不再增加财富的临界值。

    不用说,幸福本身只是个相对的概念。那怎样算得上是幸福呢?

    正如《财富》杂志(Fortune)资深编辑丹•普里马克所说的,就连美国的百万富翁们也还是觉得自己不够富裕。那么他们就没有那些只能挣最低工资的穷人开心吗?

    不是的,只是超级富豪们需要更多的财富才能更幸福,沃尔弗斯和史蒂文森在研究报告中写道。这份研究报告将在今年5月份的《美国经济评论》(American Economic Review)杂志上发表。事实上,研究中并没有发现不幸福的百万富翁。幸福这个话题长期以来一直吸引着经济学家的注意力,沃尔弗斯和史蒂文森的分析补充了这个话题的研究成果。

    They say money can't buy happiness, but a new study suggests it actually can. In fact, the more money you have, the happier you are.

    That might sound obvious to some people, but studies have historically shown there's more to happiness than money. In the 1970s, economist Richard Easterlin argued that increasing average income did not raise average well-being, a claim that became known as the Easterlin Paradox. Over the years, the paradox evolved into the notion that money does indeed buy happiness, but that effect fizzles once the income you earn is able to buy your basic needs -- food, shelter, and the like.

    Somehow that idea carried into popular notion but was never really formally tested.

    Now University of Michigan economists Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson have examined data for more than 150 countries from sources including the World Bank and the Gallup World Poll. The husband-and-wife team found that the more money people have the happier they are, regardless of whether they're rich or poor. And contrary to earlier studies, there isn't a cutoff point where making more than a certain amount doesn't lead to more happiness.

    Needless to say, happiness is a relative term. What does it mean to be happy, anyway?

    Even America's millionaires don't think of themselves as rich, as Fortune's Dan Primack has pointed out. So are they any less happy than poorer folks scraping by earning minimum wage?

    Not exactly. It just takes more money to make the super-rich happier, Wolfers and Stevenson note in their study, which is to be published in the May 2013 American Economic Review. In fact, the study found zero unhappy millionaires. Their analysis adds to the collection of studies on happiness that have long interested economists.

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