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back to article Happiness: Yours for £50k a year

US researchers have found that happiness can be yours for an income of $75k a year (or £48,814.44 as of this morning), although trousering more than that won't necessarily increase your joie de vivre. Professor Angus Deaton, an economist at the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University, and Nobel Prize winning …

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Unhappy

Gross vs net?

Is this gross or net?

£50k in the UK might sound good, but factor in a combined tax load of over 60%, with *every* household bill increasing way above inflation or matching pay rises, and it kinda takes the edge off it a wee bit.

So a "cash in hand" analysis would be more relevant.

I'm outa here (the UK) at the earliest opportunity, frankly.

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Pint

Agree...

...50K a year in Central London won't get you a slum bedsit, but ooop north, you'll get a nice little palace for that.

That and the fact think the barraw boys think £4 a pint is normal, you'd (almost) get a couple of decent pints elsewhere..

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Silver badge

£4 a pint?

If you're paying £4 a pint then you're drinking in the wrong places. I rarely pay more than £3 for a pint in London, usually much closer to the national average of £2.75.

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Brilliant!

I just need to double my salary. Easy.

<-- Likely outcome of that happening in my current industry

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Anonymous Coward

it's possible!

I doubled mine when I started my new job, but that may have been as I was grossly underpaid in my last one.

Though, I am not going to lie, I want to be on 50k by 30

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Headmaster

The stresses of life at times most of us have to suffer...

I suspect part of this increase in mood up to $75k but not beyond that point is simply due to the stresses in life of having to pay bills and living expenses without enough money to go around. Something that is obvious to everyone without enough money to go around!. People on low money have to worry endlessly about each new bill and how to pay just to live whereas once you earn enough not the have to worry about the bills, that is such a freeing experience, so then earning even more isn't going to make much more difference in terms of the every day stresses of life.

The problem is *most* employers want to keep *most* of their employees well below this $75k because (A) they want all that money for themselves, and (B) keeping staff pay low gives a boss a way to exert more pressure on employees to make them work harder for their living (although point (B) is something that I find usually only more experienced workers come to realise, after they have been through a few companies, as they start to see the patterns repeating in each company).

Often younger people say things like, "the richer people in society don't know just how hard it is", and while at times that's partly true, it however masks a far bigger issue that many richer people do understand how hard it is for most workers and they actually secretly want it that way. Business thrives on pressuring people to do what the people with the money want. Ultimately money is a form of power. Its power over people who need money to live and the more desperate they are for money the more power money gives the people with money. That's simply life, but it is very stressful to be forced to live like this, hence the results of this study make sense. But these results are obvious to anyone who has to live like this!

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Unhappy

It all makes sense now.

That explains why I'm a miserable bastard.

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Anonymous Coward

post hoc ergo propter hoc

innit?

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Maybe in America...

I can see the logic, but I'd guess the number required would be higher in the UK because net earnings against that number would be rather less than the US. I also have a sneaking suspicion based on recent experience that having children moves that number towards infinity...

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This is not a transferrable statistic...

The UK property market is so screwed up that for £50K you could only buy a cardboard box in London, with ensuite jam jar. It's also totally unclear whether that assumes only one income per household or two, making the report up to 100% inaccurate.

Looking forward to the Bootnote update!

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Transferability is not just a UK issue

In the US there are massive differences in cost of living region to region, city to city, etc as well. Right now San Francisco is the most expensive place to live. According to at this COL calculator (http://www.bestplaces.net/col/), I would need to make double to have an equivalent standard of living if I relocated there.

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https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States

$75k puts you comfortably in the top end so it's not surprising that you're happy. Beyond that and you probably don't mix with enough poor people to stay grounded.

Can we have a "well, duh" icon?

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Joke

Have I Got News

So now we know what Angus Deaton has been up to since leaving "Have I Got News for You".

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Median of $52,000?

Really? That's over £30,000! Lucky bastards.

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Coat

@ £30K median...

I thought the UK median was £25K - i'm sure everyone here on £25K or less would welcome an extra five grand haha..

My coat's the one with £5K missing from it...

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Unhappy

£50K?

That might be the amount according to the exchange rate, but given our higher general costs of living, and taking "rip-off Britain" into account when considering the prices of, say, electronic goods, I'd imagine we're looking at a similar level but in sterling. So, £75K a year at least.

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Unhappy

A right to be unhappy?

So over half of those in the "land of the free" are relatively unhappy? That is, if the cut-off for happy is taken as $75k and over half are nowhere near that. The "pursuit" of happiness clearly isn't much fun.

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In the words of Spike Milligan

"Money doesn't buy you friends, but you get a better class of enemy"

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Boffin

Rich people are happier?!

Who would have thought it! I knew communism was a bad idea.

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Gold badge

This research...

...sounds about right. $75K CAD would cover everything I can think of wanting to spend money on, whilst allowing me to save a reasonable amount for retirement. Anything past that would be gravy, and be very likely to get donated (at least by me) anyways.

First person to offer $75K gets themselves a hard working sysadmin who puts in 12-16 hour days, isn't afraid of the odd 80+ hour straight network overhaul and writes articles for The Register in his spare time. Takers?

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Flame

Luckily no managers read this...

Because they'd read:

Hardworking sysadmin...12-16hr days....IN INDIA...75p a day...just get a contractor in for 80hr onsite overhaul as and when. What? of course it won't affect service or quality...

Anonymous, because my glorious employer is just about layoff 30-50% of the UK support staff to do exactly the above.

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Silver badge

Not sure a direct comparison to UK salary is right

Since housing on average (I beleive) is much more expensive in the UK, I would think that 50k wouldnt be enough as more is used to pay for our outrageously expensive bricks and mortar.

Probably the cheaper cost of living in the States woudl also skew things,

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Not quite that simple

I've been looking at an IT job in Kandahar that pays 90K tax free. That woudl definitely be above the 50K threshold, but would I be happy?

Mrs Anon and the family back in the UK would be fretting about me and I'd be busy dodging mortars and IEDs.

50K+ AND a nice desk job AND a short commute AND decent nieghbours AND good health. Now you're starting to get close to happiness.

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@AC

Got a link for that job in Kandahar? Sounds like less stress than my regular. Better pay too.

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And in the UK?

I wonder how the UK figure compares. In the US you're going to need enough to stop, for example, worrying about whether or not you can afford private health cover, whereas this isn't such an issue in the UK. OTOH money tends to go further in the US.

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Anonymous Coward

More valuable research

I for one am shocked at the discovery that poor people are unhappy and having lots and lots of money instead of lots of money does not make you any happier. Who would have thought it?

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Silver badge

"US researchers"

Not relevant to the UK.

Remember the US is mostly populated by people who are genetically inclined to be miserable - they moved there because they were unhappy or persecuted where they were.

This research is not applicable to the more stable UK population though will explain why your Polish plumber whistles merrily while he/she works to repair your badly made boiler as this seems to be their median earning level.

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Anonymous Coward

"genetically inclined to be miserable"

Tom7: "Remember the US is mostly populated by people who are genetically inclined to be miserable - they moved there because they were unhappy or persecuted where they were." So if I move to another country because I like it better than my birth country, does that make me and my descendents genetically inclined to be happy? Seems unlikely.

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Joke

"genetically inclined to be miserable"

And Australia is entirely peopled with criminals.

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Coat

Greetings friend

"Do you wish to be as happy as me? Well, you have the power right inside of you. So use it. And send $1 to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace."

Is honestly where I thought this was going...

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FAIL

$75k != £50k

Despite what the exchange rate may suggest, $75k has a lot more buying power than the simply converted amount of Sterling (which is £48k btw).

The purchasing power exchange rate is much closer to 1:1, and in a country with lots and lots of land (Manhattan Island excepted), a very much smaller proportion of that top whack goes into housing costs than it does here.

If you want to do comparisons, talk about *disposable* income...

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Headmaster

population

I don't think the difference in housing cost has as much to do with land values (although they are artificially high due to mad planning laws) as it has to do with houses in the UK being made out of bricks and slates, rather than spit and sawdust as in the states. Pay attention the next time you see an American town flattened by a tornado on the news - there's usually one or two buildings 'miraculously' still standing. Those will be the ones with brick walls.

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Bronze badge

where in comparison

Twister Alley in the UK stands up fine every time? And no doubt London stands up fine to those Category IV hurricanes that roar through.

Heaven knows I have had some interesting experiences with houses in the US, and there are some builders I'd be happy to pillory or worse. But when a tornado visits, "slates" = edged weapons.

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Pint

My wellbeing depends

not only on money, but on my principle of always declining to participate in such surveys.

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Anonymous Coward

Angus Deayton?

We all know what he likes to spend his £50k on, no wonder he's happy with his lot....

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Joke

_Professor_ Angus Deaton?!?

Well, I'm glad to see he managed to turn his life around, after his disgraced departure from HIGNFY!

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Coat

They say money doesn't bring you happiness

Am I the only one who would give it a go just on the off chance "they" are wrong?

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"they"

No Doubt "they" are the ones with the money and they don't want to give it us because their too happy so they lied!

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Silver badge

Re: "they"

Why should "they" give it to you? Go out and earn it you lazy sod.

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Age of respondents?

The actual number must depend a lot on peoples' ages. Younger folks with no school bills to pay and little concern for retirement are generally likely to be less stressed financially than those in their mid-40's with college fees, a mrtggage, and a growing awareness that if they lose their job it will be a harder and slower process to get another.

Other surveys show that past the 50 barrier people tend to be happier anyway, which is at least in part because the major bills in life are hopefully behind them. Kids are at work, mortgage is paid, etc.

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Flame

Money does buy you happiness...

but not in the UK, money buys you the right to complain in the UK. If you like to moan, be miserable and give more than half of everything you earn to her majesty the UK is still the best place to live.

What makes things worse is that we will end up paying more and more money to the government in times to come, anyone with any brains that don't have any commitments will jump ship, I know many people that are going to move to other countries and I'm looking at my options - get out and let other people worry about paying the deficit!

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Coat

There's only one thing money can't buy...

...poverty!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's only one thing money can't buy...

Never heard of gambling?

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Grenade

Ah! Earning lots of money is a good thing. Gotcha.

I see, well now you've proved it scientifically I guess I'll try and get a high paid job.

Whereas before I read this I was considering becoming a tramp.

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+1

I agree with this, when I hit 50K I was considerably happier than I was with less cash.

Mind you, it also coincided with my morgage going down after 10 years of payments.

Or maybe I'm just older and happier as a result of not having small kids anymore?

Come to think of it, that survey is bollox isin't it?

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Anonymous Coward

I'm glad there are poor people

It makes me so much happier

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Corporate rat traps

Even in the peoples republic of California, embedded engineers typically get $90K ~ $140K (and upward) without UK levels of tax gouging. Housing can be to UK levels of idiocy (SF,LA) but the cost of living is cheaper. Just remember to pump up your 401K and retain dual nationality for those NHS moments (Health insurance is a right bastard racket). The only thing to remember is to not follow the herd and indulge in the massive consumerism over there.

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Unhappy

I hate this study and the scientists that wrote it

As it reminds how I'm earning less after 7 years in a company than some jerk that just started. Stupid midpoints.

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Anonymous Coward

The poverty is strong in this one

I find your lack of money... disturbing.

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As Pterry said

"Money doesn't buy you happiness, Gytha."

"But I only wants to rent it for a while."

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