The price of income happiness differs across the country, a new Gallup poll shows.
The price of income happiness differs across the country, a new Gallup poll shows. (iStock)

Residents of metropolitan areas like New York, Philadelphia and Boston know that it takes more than just moxie to make it in the big city. In fact, it takes money — and often a lot.

But does the amount of money you make really affect your happiness level? Yes — but money only goes so far in the pursuit of happiness, especially when you factor in where you live, according to a Gallup study that was provided to Time.

Gallup, who partnered with personal-health company Sharecare on the study, examined interviews regarding the effects of income on daily emotions with more than 350,000 U.S. residents between 2015 and 2016. Participants were asked questions that included “Did you experience enjoyment during a lot of the day yesterday?” and “Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?”

Interestingly, the study found that happiness hits a plateau regardless of where you live. Depending on your metro region, you’ll just hit peak happiness sooner.


“It isn’t like in some regions you cap out at higher happiness than others,” lead researcher Dan Witters told Time.

For example, a Philadelphian who makes $105,000 is no happier than a resident of Phoenix, who earns $54,000.

Los Angeles, New York and Seattle’s happiness peak is also $105,000, making those four cities the highest income from the study.

What might come as a surprise is that New York, Boston, L.A. and Philly aren’t the study’s top income area. That crown is worn by the East North Central Region, or the area of the Great Lakes, of the study, where it takes residents at least $120,000 to reach peak happiness. 

“We learned a lot about the economy and working-class residents of these areas, and what’s happened with their well-being over the last several years,” Witters said. “I think it’s a fair hypothesis that this is a reflection of people feeling disenchanted, disgruntled, left behind.

Comparatively, Atlanta residents peak at $42,000, the study’s lowest income peak.

If you’re not feeling the warm blanket of income happiness in your hometown, maybe you should think relocating to a place where you get more bang — and smiles — for your bucks.

“With some regions … it takes a lot less money to maximize the chance that you’ll have a really good day,” Witters said.

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