Quote of the Day

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you’re being miserable.

–Claire Booth Luce

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

26 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. It can definitely pave the way to happiness, too. If, for example, what makes you happy is traveling to see historic sites and experimenting with new food, then it sure helps if you’re independently wealthy and have tons of free time to do that.

    1. To add-

      I’m pretty sure we know it’s false on a grander scale, too. Justin Wolfers the economist has made several arguments that rich countries are on average happier than poorer ones.

  2. Moe Sizlak: “The rich ain’t happier than you and me, Homer. From the day they’re born until the day they die, they only THINK they’re happier.”


  3. Everyone keeps saying that money can’t buy happiness but they never explain why. Everything is better with money.

        1. Both, perhaps. You can buy garlic with money, and “everything” can thereby be improved.

      1. Money and garlic are both sources of great happiness. Money, however, is far more versatile.

  4. I believe there’s an expanding literature on this. The take-home is that GDP per head is strongly correlated with average happiness up to about $15,000 (corresponding to the quotation’s “comfort”), then it disconnects or at least weakens. Of course, the richer are likelier to be happier than the poor in any society, because of status and other positional goods: they are freer to do what they want.

    1. “Money does not buy you happiness, but lack of money certainly buys you misery.”

      Daniel Kahneman, Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology.

      1. “Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won’t buy, but it’s very funny- Have you ever tried to buy them without money?”

        Ogden Nash

    2. While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.

      attributed to the world’s most famous marxist, Groucho

  5. The few multi millionaires I’ve been aquainted with have had the most miserable family lives imaginable. If it doesn’t screw up the guy who makes the fortune it f***s up his kids real bad and then of course he has to suffer watching that show.
    Not enough money is crappy but too much is worse. But then again I would take the chance. I mean I’m smarter than those guys and a better person too. Right?…RIGHT?

  6. After a relatively modest point, adding money to a situation simply accelerates the direction of travel, up or down.

    1. Possibly but, in any case, the journey will be vastly more comfortable with plenty of money.

      1. Right. BUt what it doesn’t do, for the most part, is SOLVE problems. It eases certain stresses, for sure, and creates others. But attitudes towards money are more definitive as to “enjoyment”, than absolute numbers.

        1. Problems that can’t be solved with money usually can’t be solved at all. I can’t think of any situation that money can’t improve.

          1. My favorite tautology of the week.

            Many problems have no solution, nor real amelioration, such as chronic pain, loss, etc. Others, like psychiatric problems and drug addictions, are resistant to all forms of intervention. Try giving money to an addict and see if it helps.

            Someone who has issues with spending money won’t be helped by getting more money. Ditto hoarders. Now, if you say that money will get them therapy, this is true, but therapy won’t fix the problem by itself. So, it boils down to the Clintonesque: “It depends what you mean by improve.”

            The point for me is, after you get your shit together, money helps a lot of things that it won’t help before. And, for shits and giggles, look at the interviews with lottery winners and pro sports players (where I have real experience.) Money helped them so much that 10 years later, many are worse off than they were before.

    1. Freewheelin’ Franklin obviously doesn’t know where to shop (See, Baskaborr’s comment below).

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