Everything about this study is interesting:

Contentedness does increase steadily in line with incomes and even accelerates as pay rises beyond $100,000 a year — as long as the person enjoys a certain baseline level of happiness to begin with. That’s according to the authors’ study of 33,391 people living in the US, published March 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. They say the effect can be observed in salaries up to $500,000, though they lack conclusive data beyond that level.

When doing science, repeatable results are a standard of accurate results. If you can only create the effect in every other study, well, your hypothesis about X causing Y is probably not correct! More study on the correlation between money and happiness is surely needed, but regardless it is good to see a result more in line with lived experience. (Here’s hoping it’s repeatable.)

Also fascinating are the variables which were controlled for and studied. Read that block quote again, specifically: “as long as the person enjoys a certain baseline level of happiness.” As the study authors identify, people who earn $100k+ a year and are still unhappy may have much deeper problems. Earning $500k per year but being abused in a relationship, or addicted to drugs, may lead to an unhappy life regardless of income level. That extra money is not offsetting the problems faced elsewhere in life. But a family with a few kids would be much happier earning $500k than $100k! How obvious.

A fun quip, which I hope they study more, is this one: “An approximately four-fold difference in income is about equal to the effect of a weekend.” Take a worker making $100k, give them $400k, and they may be equally happy working 7 days per week instead of 5. Would a family of four earning $300k give up their weekends for $1.2 million in income? I hope someone, somewhere, is studying this.