Felicidad, dinero y donaciones

¿Se sentiría más feliz si fuera más rico? Mucha gente cree que sí. Pero la investigación realizada durante muchos años sugiere que una mayor riqueza implica una mayor felicidad sólo en niveles de ingresos muy bajos. Por ejemplo, la gente en Estados Unidos, en promedio, es más rica que los neocelandeses, pero no es más feliz. Peor aún, la gente en Austria, Francia, Japón y Alemania aparentemente no es más feliz que la gente en muchos países más pobres, como Brasil, Colombia y las Filipinas.

Las comparaciones entre países con diferentes culturas son difíciles, pero el mismo efecto aparece al interior de los países, excepto en niveles de ingresos muy bajos, como por debajo de los 12.000 dólares anuales en el caso de Estados Unidos. Más allá de ese punto, un incremento en el ingreso no influye demasiado en la felicidad de la gente. Los norteamericanos son más ricos de lo que eran en los años 50, pero no son más felices. Los norteamericanos que hoy están en el rango de ingresos medios –es decir, un ingreso familiar entre 50.000 y 90.000 dólares- tienen un nivel de felicidad casi idéntico al de los norteamericanos adinerados, con un ingreso familiar de más de 90.000 dólares.

La mayoría de las encuestas sobre felicidad simplemente le preguntan a la gente cuán satisfecha está con su vida. No podemos depositar demasiada confianza en estos estudios, porque este tipo de evaluación general sobre la “satisfacción en la vida” tal vez no refleje cuánto disfruta realmente la gente la manera en que pasa el tiempo.

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