Friday, January 06, 2017

What Brings More Happiness, More Time Or More Money?

Ben Franklin said that time is money, implying that one can be traded for another. You could work a part-time job in addition to your full-time job, for example. You would have more money but less free time.

More money allows you to purchase more goods and services. But if you have to work more, you have less time to enjoy the additional goods you now own. So each of us has to find the mix of free time (leisure time) and goods that makes us happiest.

Anyway, the NY Times had an interesting article on this a few months ago. See What Should You Choose: Time or Money? by HAL E. HERSHFIELD and CASSIE MOGILNER HOLMES. Hal E. Hershfield is an assistant professor and Cassie Mogilner Holmes an associate professor at the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"we found that most people valued money more than time. Sixty-four percent of the 4,415 people we asked in five surveys chose money."

"Is money the right choice? We had also asked our survey respondents to report their level of happiness and life satisfaction. We found that the people who chose time were on average statistically happier and more satisfied with life than the people who chose money.

So money may turn out to be the wrong choice.

But maybe this result simply shows that the people who chose money are more financially constrained and therefore less happy. To check this, we also asked respondents to report their annual household income along with the number of hours they work each week (to measure how much time they have).

We found that even when we held constant the amount of leisure time and money respondents had (as well as their age, gender, marital status, parental status and the extent to which they valued material possessions), the people who chose time over money were still happier. So if we were to take two people who were otherwise the same, the one who chose time over money would be happier than the one who chose money over time."

"more income is positively related to happiness up to a certain point ($75,000, in the United States) and that life satisfaction continues to increase with income beyond that point."

"The people in our studies who chose time over money thought about the resources differently and had different intentions for how they would spend the time or money gained. Unlike those who chose money, who were more likely to be fixated on not having enough, people who chose time focused more on how they would spend it, planning to “spend” on wants rather than needs (e.g., cultivating a hobby versus completing chores at home) and on other people rather than themselves"

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