Happiness really doesn’t cost much, according to a new study.
New research has revealed that many indigenous peoples and local communities around the world are leading very satisfying lives – despite having very little money.
The findings show that many societies with very low monetary income have remarkably high levels of life satisfaction, comparable to those in wealthy countries.
The research team from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain noted that previous polls on the association between money and happiness have overlooked people in small-scale societies on the fringes where the exchange of money plays a minimal role in everyday life.
To bridge this knowledge gap, they conducted a survey with 2,966 people from Indigenous and local communities in 19 globally distributed sites.
Only 64 percent of surveyed households had any cash income.
The results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed an average life satisfaction score of 6.8 out of 10 across these small-scale societies.
Four of the sites were particularly high on the satisfaction scale with an average higher than 8, which is typical of wealthy Scandinavian countries in other polls.
Professor Victoria Reyes-Garcia said: “The strong correlation frequently observed between income and life satisfaction is not universal and proves that wealth – as generated by industrialized economies – is not fundamentally required for humans to lead happy lives.”
The lowest average on record for these sites was 5.1, but the researchers note that overall, these results are consistent with the notion that human societies can support very satisfactory lives without material wealth.
Lead author professor Eric Galbraith said: “Surprisingly, many populations with very low monetary incomes report very high average levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in wealthy countries and this is so, despite many of these societies having suffered histories of marginalization and oppression.
“It is possible that the important factors differ significantly between societies or, conversely, that a small subset of factors dominate everywhere.
“I would hope that, by learning more about what makes life satisfying in these diverse communities, it might help many others to lead more satisfying lives while addressing the sustainability crisis.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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