Wealth redistribution promotes happiness

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Nov 16;119(46):e2211123119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2211123119. Epub 2022 Nov 7.


How much happiness could be gained if the world's wealth were distributed more equally? Despite decades of research investigating the relationship between money and happiness, no experimental work has quantified this effect for people across the global economic spectrum. We estimated the total gain in happiness generated when a pair of high-net-worth donors redistributed US$2 million of their wealth in $10,000 cash transfers to 200 people. Our preregistered analyses offer causal evidence that cash transfers substantially increase happiness among economically diverse individuals around the world. Recipients in lower-income countries exhibited happiness gains three times larger than those in higher-income countries. Still, the cash provided detectable benefits for people with household incomes up to $123,000.

Keywords: cash transfers; happiness; inequality; wealth redistribution; well-being.

MeSH terms

  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Time