Will Your Higher Earnings Bring You Happiness?

“Will Your Higher Earnings Bring You Happiness?” It’s a question that has been debated for hundreds of years - will money bring you happiness? While we can all agree that wealth does not buy love, good health or true friendship, it can ease pressure on our daily lives. As the old saying goes - money doesn't buy happiness but it’s more comfortable to cry in a Lamborghini. 

Many of us strive to do better in our careers on the assumption that higher earnings will make us happier, but will this really bring the effect we believe it will do?

The CPD Standards office, providers of CPD accreditation, knows the importance of furthering our personal qualifications and wanted to delve deeper into this topic.

Data was collated from The ONS to gain an understanding of how happy workers within industries are and if there was any correlation with their average weekly earnings.

Here is the infographic that was produced based on the study:

Will Your Higher Earnings Bring You Happiness? Infographic

The Correlation Between Average Weekly Salary and Happiness Within Industries

Respondents were asked on a scale of 0 to 10 how happy they were, with 0 being completely unhappy and 10 being completely happy.

This was then cross-referenced with the average weekly earnings of these industries.

The industries with the highest correlation were:

  1. Retail, trade and repairs - 92.01%
  2. Accommodation and food service activities - 88.91%
  3. Education - 88.59%
  4. Administrative and support service activities - 87.4%
  5. Manufacturing - engineering and allied industries - 86.3%

The industries with the lowest correlation were:

  1. Mining and quarrying - 22.15%
  2. Professional, scientific and technical activities - 26.18%
  3. Manufacturing - chemicals and made-made fibres - 33.22%
  4. Real estate activities - 33.68%
  5. Financial & insurance activities - 34.30%

Exact reasons as to why happiness levels were so were not provided, however, we can speculate. Careers within industries such as mining and quarrying are often demanding and stressful roles.

These industries will often compensate for poor working conditions with higher wages, this does not always increase satisfaction levels as daily strain on an employee may not be lessened. The negative health implications of these working conditions would be a good example of this.

This does not mean that roles who scored a high correlation are not stressful, rather that these stresses can be reduced and happiness increases with the higher wage.

Skill, trade and administrative roles saw a higher correlation overall with happiness and average weekly earnings.

Correlation Between Average Weekly Earnings and Anxiety Within Industries

Anxiety was scored in the same manner as happiness, with 0 possessing no level of anxiety and 10 being highly anxious.

The industries that scored the highest correlation with anxiety and average weekly earnings were:

  1. Retail, trade and repairs - 74.52%
  2. Manufacturing - other - 72.07%
  3. Manufacturing - engineering and allied industries - 70.67%
  4. Education - 68.51%
  5. Accommodation and food service activities - 68.04%

These correlations were not as strong as those with levels of happiness, however, there is still a high enough correlation to take something from these findings.

Retail, trade and repairs reported the strongest correlation with happiness but also with anxiety. In fact, most of the industries that possess the highest happiness correlation also reported the highest anxiety. 

You can be mistaken for confusing anxiety with unhappiness. However, these are two very different emotions and you can have one alongside the other.

From these results, we can conclude that as wages rise, so does job responsibility which can increase anxiety levels. 

Health and social work, an industry infamous for high anxiety levels, interestingly reported the lowest correlation at just 53.40%. Although this industry may have high anxiety levels, it appears these do not increase as wages do.

Higher Levels of Anxiety Reported for Those Who are Living Comfortably

Income was scored in a subjective manner, the same with happiness and was broken into the following:

  • Completely satisfied
  • Mostly satisfied
  • Somewhat satisfiedNeither satisfied nor dissatisfied
  • Somewhat dissatisfied
  • Mostly dissatisfied
  • Completely dissatisfied

How respondents were managing financially was broken into:

  • Living comfortably
  • Doing alright
  • Just about getting by
  • Finding it quite difficult
  • Finding it very difficult

Those who placed themselves as ‘completely satisfied’ reported a 65.68% correlation with higher anxiety levels and those who stated they were ‘living comfortably’ showed an even higher correlation of 88.97%.

Again, these roles are more likely to possess higher levels of responsibility which can lead to more daily stress.

Is There a Correlation Between Bonus Sums and Happiness?

Bonuses are often offered to employees to increase productivity and boost morale but it appears this system may not be providing the outcome many employers seek.

There was very little correlation between bonuses and happiness, therefore the results are relatively inconclusive. The industry with the largest correlation was construction at a meagre 41%.

This can be interpreted in a few ways, perhaps bonus sums are not high enough to justify a change in attitude or level of income satisfaction.

When it comes to performance-based bonuses, employees may be taking on higher stress levels in order to meet targets and achieve these sums. These stress levels may not justify bonus levels.

Happiness and Income Satisfaction

You may think that those who reported a high correlation in happiness and weekly earning would also report higher levels of income satisfaction. However, those on a more modest income can still report higher income satisfaction.

Industries who reported the highest correlation between income satisfaction and happiness were:

  1. Retail, trade and repairs - 87.81%
  2. Administrative and support service activities - 87.74%
  3. Education - 85.71%
  4. Accommodation and food service activities - 84.87%
  5. Health and social work - 81.98%

Those who scored the lowest correlation were:

  1. Mining and quarrying - 9.28%
  2. Professional, scientific and technical activities - 24.15%
  3. Manufacturing - chemicals and man-made fibres - 29.18%
  4. Financial and insurance activities - 29.46%
  5. Real estate activities - 29.95%

Poorer working conditions in industries such as mining and quarrying can lead to satisfaction levels not differing, no matter what wage is earned, the health implications on the workers may never lead to income satisfaction.

Overall, we can conclude that money can bring happiness, but only within certain industries and you may have to sacrifice your mental health in order to achieve this.