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2 charts that show money really does buy happiness

People living in wealthier countries tend to be more satisfied with their lives than those in poorer countries, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. But the disparity is shrinking as developing and emerging nations see major improvements in their economies and living conditions — and as wealthier countries see their own economies battered by the Great Recession. The Economist charted the trends:

life satisfaction happiness

As Pew pointed out, the link between satisfaction and wealth is still very real: "When asked about specific aspects of their lives, publics in nearly all emerging and developing economies are less satisfied with the economic realm, such as their job or standard of living, than with the personal arena, such as family, friends, or religion. Satisfaction with their material well-being, though, has the biggest positive impact on their overall happiness."

This finding tracks with previous research that closely linked money and changes in the economy with happiness.

But other issues certainly play a role, Pew explained: "While wealth is a key factor in life satisfaction, it is not the only one, and emerging market publics vary considerably in how happy they are. Latin American countries are much more satisfied than other emerging nations. Argentines, Mexicans and Peruvians are also considerably happier today than they were in 2002. People in the Middle East, on the other hand, are especially dissatisfied with their current life situation. Egypt and Jordan, in particular, exhibited some of the largest declines in satisfaction over the past seven years, perhaps due to the political and social upheaval in these countries and the region."

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