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MAGAZINE : Career/Job

Would a Raise Make You Happier in 2009?

If you ask just about any person this question, the reponse would be a resounding yes, but according to research, it is usually not true.

Various studies on happiness show quite the contrary. In fact, salaried workers today demonstrated no more happiness than did their grandparents 50 years earlier. Of course lifestyles, social standards and costs of living have changed a lot since the 1950s but the wages we earn nowadays are much higher than ever before in relative terms.

It appears that employees typically measure their monetary satisfaction not against what they earn, but against what they believe others in their immediate sphere earn. As long as their peers make more money than they do, they will never be content. Interestingly however, people are always quite secretive about the amount they actually earn and almost all employees feel (usually erroneously) that their friends and peers are earning more than they are.

Measuring happiness is a complicated business and the results depend on extensive surveys and a wide range of parameters of which income is just one. There appears to be a negligible direct correlation between happiness and income; for instance, would a 20% raise bring you 20% more happiness?

Whilst just about everyone would say yes to an immediate boost in income level, it is amazing how quickly people increase their spending levels the moment they do receive a little more income. A bigger house, a newer car, upgrade the cable TV package, eat in a nicer restaurant, and before they know it, they are struggling to meet the bills again at the end of the month.


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