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The Complex Relationship Between Money and Happiness – Is the Pursuit of Wealth Worth It?

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The Complex Relationship Between Money and Happiness – Is the Pursuit of Wealth Worth It?

Lottery Winners: From Rags to Riches and Back Again?

The stories of people winning large sums of money in the lottery only to end up bankrupt are well-known. In 2012, British couple Adrian and Gillian Bayford won 190 million euros in the EuroMillions lottery, only to be divorced months later, and each ending up married to people who cheated on them, fighting with their family, and in debt from bad investments. Another story comes from 1988 when William Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania (USA) lottery. A year later, his brother paid a hitman to kill him and inherit his fortune. While Post survived, his life ended with more than a million euros in debt.

These are just two examples, but according to some media outlets, these instances are not just anecdotes. The idea of 70% of lottery winners being ruined within five years has been widely attributed to a study by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) in Denver (USA). However, the NEFE denied in 2018 that their research found such conclusions and attributed the confusion to an individual at a meeting organized by the NEFE in 2001 who invented the data. Additional studies suggest a much lower percentage of lottery winners facing bankruptcy, at less than 6%.

Scientific research has produced conflicting results, with some studies indicating that money does not buy happiness, while others suggest otherwise. A recent study by Matthew Killingsworth, from the University of Pennsylvania, and Daniel Kahneman, from Princeton, found that for 80% of people, earning more money continues to bring emotional benefits, while 20% are unaffected. The study also indicated that money can have a lasting impact on well-being, allowing individuals to pursue activities that make them feel better, such as spending time with family or taking care of their health.

Furthermore, a recent study published by the PNAS magazine found that people living in societies with very few economic resources reported high levels of satisfaction. Despite their apparent poverty, communities such as the Mapuche of Lonquimay and the Guaraní of Paraguay reported high levels of satisfaction.

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These findings have led some experts to question whether the pursuit of happiness should be the ultimate goal, especially in increasingly consumer-driven societies. Regardless, the complexities of the relationship between money and happiness continue to be a topic of interest and debate.

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