Sat. Dec 10th, 2022

$10 million. That’s the number that most people think is necessary to lead a comfortable life—except if you’re American, that is.

In a recent study conducted by university psychologists at the U.K. universities of Bath, Bath Spa and Exeter, people decided that $10m (£8.6m) was an ideal amount to lead a “comfortable life.”

8,000 people were asked the same questions in 33 countries around the world across 6 continents. People from 86% of these countries said they would be happy with this amount—the question focused on how much money they would consider to be enough in a lottery win.

These research conclusions might challenge the notion that people are yearning for ‘unlimited wants’.

One exception was people in the U.S.—where the majority of people that were polled said they would need at least $100m or more to lead an ideal life, with 31.7% (this was the most popular response for Americans) preferring to have at least $100 billion.

In contrast, more than 50% of people responding in Argentina, India and Russia said they would like $1m or less to lead a comfortable life.

The study found that limited and unlimited wealth ideals were not related to country differences in economic development—instead, the people who wanted more or unlimited amounts tended to be younger, city-dwelling people who valued power, success and independence. They also tended to live in countries with a greater collective focus and acceptance of power differences.

The study might offer hope for a more sustainable form of economic progress. The authors said that “the truism that people have unlimited wants has been proposed since ancient Greece and persists today in economics textbooks as a basis for the fundamental economic problem of scarcity.”

However, the study believes it has showed this to be inherently false in most countries.

The results suggest that sustainable goals of limiting wealth and growth “may actually be more consistent with human ideals and aspirations than (is) commonly believed.”

This study was published at the same time as simultaneous research by an independent organisation that studies inequality in French society, L’Observatoire des Inégalités. That study determined that to be considered rich, a person must have a revenue of €3,673 per month ($3,903).

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