Actually, money makes you happier if you're miserably poor. But once you have a certain amount -- maybe enough that you no longer have to worry about your family's well-being -- more money doesn't make much difference. Lottery winners report that, a year after their windfall, they were no happier than they were before.
That's counterintuitive. Instinct tells us that wealth brings happiness. It's a reason why some people envy the rich and why income inequality causes lots of angst today. One left-wing journalist writes, "Every model shows the most unequal societies are the least happy."
"There's no evidence that this is true," Coyne said. "Even the staunchest proponents of government intervention to increase happiness admit that there's no relationship."
You wouldn't know that reading The New York Times.
The mainstream media claim that the way to make people happy is to have government protect them from misfortune and give them stuff. The research doesn't bear that out, says Booth.
"In fact, the bigger government is, the less happy societies tend to be. There is a direct relationship, stripping everything else out, between the government allowing people more freedom and well-being increasing."
Yet politicians move in the other direction. The socialist likely to be France's next president wants to lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 and institute a "maximum-work" law.
When will they learn that you don't make people happier by taking their options away?