News And Politics

Cost of happiness: $50,000? One poll indicates yes

April 20, 2012, 4:09 p.m.

Making $50,000 a year or more could be part of the key to happiness, according to a new poll. (Credit: Tracy O./Flickr Creative Commons)

Money couldn't buy the Beatles love, but it might be a major factor in whether or not you're happy.

A recent poll conducted by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, a New York-based survey research center, found that being happy is a little easier when you make at least $50,000 per year.

To inject that with a little perspective: L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry's ninth district will have an average annual income of approximately $16,000 or less if the redistricting commission's draft gets approved by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (which it most likely will).

And, as a whole, the majority of households in South L.A. make less than $20,000 a year, according to the Los Angeles Times' Mapping L.A. project. When you break that down to individual neighborhoods, you find a lot of median household incomes under $50,000: Central-Alameda with $31,559; Historic South-Central with $30,882; Florence with $29,447; and Vermont Knolls with $27,730.

What difference does the $50,000 benchmark make? Marist's poll surveyed participants on 10 aspects of quality of life: free time, spiritual life, work/how days are spent, health, family, friends, community involvement, neighborhood safety, housing and finances.

Across the board, people who made $50,000 a year or more said they were more satisfied in those areas than people who made less than that.

Not surprisingly, people making less than $50,000 annually were also more likely to feel the brunt of a harsh economy. Seventy-one percent had to cut household spending over the past year, as opposed to 47 percent of those who make $50,000 a year or more; 26 percent had trouble getting or paying for medical care (versus eight percent); 24 percent had trouble paying mortgage or rent (compared to six percent) and 19 percent had trouble paying for prescription drugs (as opposed to six percent).

The study also found that people who make less than $50,000 are less likely to call themselves "very happy," more likely to say their best years are behind them and less likely to say the best is yet to come.

There are no neighborhoods in OnCentral's area of coverage that have an average median household income of at least $50,000.

Photo by Tracy O. via Flickr Creative Commons.

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