How does money affect well-being? Reuters

When it comes to how much money an individual earns, there may be an optimal amount that will make you happy, according to new research.

While money doesn't necessarily buy a fulfilling life, income is known to be associated with happiness and having too little, or indeed too much, can affect emotional and psychological well-being in a negative way.

"That might be surprising as what we see on TV, and what advertisers tell us we need, would indicate that there is no ceiling when it comes to how much money is needed for happiness, but we now see there are some thresholds," said Andrew T. Jebb, lead author of the study from Purdue University.

"It's been debated at what point does money no longer change your level of well-being. We found that [globally] the ideal income point is $95,000 (£68,000) for life satisfaction and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being. Again, this amount is for individuals and would likely be higher for families."

In the case of this study, emotional well-being is defined as an individual's day-to-day emotions, while life satisfaction is an overall assessment of one's achievements and life goals.

To arrive at their findings, the researchers studied data from the Gallup World Poll – a representative survey of more than 1.7m people from 164 countries – which asks participants about life satisfaction and well-being.

Using this information, they created optimal earnings estimates for regions around the world, finding there was substantial variation – perhaps because evaluations are influenced by the standards by which individuals compare themselves to others.

For example, the ideal amount of earnings for overall life satisfaction tended to be higher in wealthier regions and lower in less affluent areas. (The figures include: Western Europe/Scandinavia ($100,000), North America ($105,000), East Asia ($110,000), Australia/New Zealand ($125,000) and the Middle East ($115,000), Eastern Europe ($45,000), Southeast Asia ($70,000), Latin America ($35,000) and Sub-Saharan Africa ($40,000)).

The optimal amounts for simply achieving emotional well-being tended to be much lower across the board.

The study, which was published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, suggests that once a certain threshold is reached, further increases in income are actually associated with reduced life satisfaction and lower levels of well-being.

The researchers speculate that while money was important for meeting basic needs, purchasing conveniences and other useful things, after the optimal point, people may become fixated on pursuing further material gains and engaging in social comparisons - which can lower well-being.

"These findings speak to a broader issue of money and happiness across cultures. Money is only a part of what really makes us happy, and we're learning more about the limits of money," Jebb concluded.