S u m m a r y :
Money cannot buy happiness, goes the age-old saying. But, maybe we only cannot buy happiness directly. New research suggests that money can be used to buy free time which, in turn, leads to greater happiness. The paper is published in PNAS.
Use Your Money Well!
Use money to buy free time to cater for increased happiness. The new study, conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School, shows that this is simple enough: you just have to pay someone to do your household chores, and you reap greater life satisfaction!
Lead author Ashley Whillans from Harvard explains that while those who hire housecleaners to get the job done might think of themselves as lazy, the study results show that buying time in this manner is tantamount to having more money in terms of the benefit of happiness.
Whillans and colleagues investigated the correlation between the variables by interviewing over 6,000 participants from Canada, the US, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The amount of money they spend on buying free time was recorded, and the volunteers also rated their levels of stress and life satisfaction. The findings show that those spending money on time-saving services reported greater life satisfaction. The association remained, regardless of the income of the people.
It Doesn’t Matter if You’re Not Wealthy
Senior author Elizabeth Dunn explains that the benefits from buying time extend beyond just wealthy people. According to her, the same effects were found “across the income spectrum”.
Furthermore, a field experiment conducted by the team shows that people were happier after spending money on time-saving purchases than on material ones.
More People Should Do This!
The authors were, however, surprised to find that only few people were reaping these benefit that money can buy.
“Although buying time can serve as a buffer against the time pressures of daily life, few people are doing it even when they can afford it,” says Dunn. “Lots of research has shown that people benefit from buying their way into pleasant experiences, but our research suggests people should also consider buying their way out of unpleasant experiences.”