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Studies: Time–not money–buys more happiness

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Keep this statistical tidbit handy the next time raises aren’t as generous as employees want: People who value time more than money are happier, according to a series of studies published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

In six studies involving more than 4,600 participants, people were fairly evenly split between those who said they value having more free time and those who value having more money.

Those who said they value time more than money scored higher on standard psychological “happiness tests.”

The researchers conducted separate surveys with a nationally representative sample of Americans, students at the University of British Columbia, and adult visitors of a science museum in Vancouver. Some of the studies used real-world examples, such as asking a participant whether he would prefer a more expensive apartment with a short commute or a less expensive apartment with a long commute. A participant also could choose between a graduate program that would lead to a job with long hours and a higher starting salary or a program that would result in a job with a lower salary but fewer hours.

A participant’s gender or income didn’t affect whether they were more likely to value time or money, although the study didn’t include participants living at the poverty level who may have to prioritize money to survive.

Retirees and those approaching retirement age were more likely to say they valued their time compared to younger people. “As people age, they often want to spend time in more meaningful ways than just making money,” said lead researcher Ashley Whillans.

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