[FOUNTAIN]How Much Does Happiness Cost?

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[FOUNTAIN]How Much Does Happiness Cost?

Money cannot buy happiness - but without any money, there is no happiness. Everyone who is not a mountain-dwelling hermit needs a certain sum of money to be happy, but happiness does not grow in proportion to wealth. There are a number of people who are unhappy because they have too much money. So how much money does one need to be happy?

A research team at Warwick University in Britain surveyed 10,000 randomly chosen people every year over a decade from 1990 to search for the correlation between money and happiness. The survey showed that people with about 1 million pounds ($1.4 million), no more and no less, were the happiest. In other words, those who have just reached the level of millionaire - in pounds - are the most content.

According to the latest issue of The Economist, a British weekly magazine, the world now has 7.2 million people with investable assets of at least $1 million, up from 5.2 million in 1997. The number of persons at or above the point where they can be as content as possible is increasing.

But not everybody can become a millionaire. Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko, who both have doctorates in marketing, published a book titled "The Millionaire Next Door" in 1998 after surveying hundreds of wealthy Americans. According to this bestseller, the average age of American millionaires is 57. Four out of five millionaires are college graduates. Eighty percent of American millionaires made their money themselves. About two-thirds work between 45 and 55 hours per week. The majority of millionaires have never spent more than $399 on a suit, and the average millionaire has never spent more than $140 on a pair of shoes. Wealthy Americans set aside at least 15 percent of their pre-tax income to invest. The rich pay only 2 percent of their income in taxes, while most people pay 12 percent.

Mr. Stanley and Mr. Danko also formulated an equation by which to estimate whether a person is on the way to becoming a millionaire. Take your age, divide it by 5, and multiply it by your annual pretax income. If the result is less than your net assets, you are on the way to becoming a millionaire. A 50-year-old man with an annual pre-tax income of 80 million won should have at least 800 million won in net assets to have a chance of becoming a millionaire.

If the happiness that money buys is freedom, a wealthy idle man would be the happiest. But not even a billionaire can be happy if he has nothing to achieve, no family to love and bad health. Another survey suggests those who believe themselves happiest are neither American nor Japanese, but Bangladeshi.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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