Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Will winning the lottery make you happy?


Most of you reading this are probably saying saying “Heck, yes!” right now, but studies cast a shadow of doubt on that premise.  In fact, people who win it big with the lottery (like the Powerball or mega jackpot – we’re not talking about a $50 scratcher ticket) often cite complications, problems, and issues in their lives that they never experienced before, causing a certain level of unhappiness.

With the odds of winning a big jackpot 1 in more than 175 million (about the same odds of you being struck by lightning or having identical quadruplets) its not likely you’ll have that problem, but still, 25 percent of the population say they play weekly.  In fact the more financially challenged the demographic, the more they play the lottery.

Studies show that lottery winners experience a rush of euphoria with winning, but that quickly retracts as problems with taxes, being targeted by predators, and family problems arise.

“Winning will release some pleasurable chemicals in your brain over the short term,” said Scott Bea, clinical psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic. “Unfortunately, your brain will likely revert back to the same old same old before too long.”

Lets look at statistics compiled from a survey of 34 national lottery winners:

Effect on Individual Happiness

Percent of lottery winner who were happier after winning: 55%
No effect on happiness:  43%
Are less happy:  2%

Of the 55% of winners who are happier…
Claimed they were happier because of improved financial security and fewer worries:  65%
Claimed they were happier because they could buy what they wanted and life was easier:  23%

Effect on Family Life
Percent who remained married after winning:  95%
Percent of winners who have given some money to their family: 83%
Percent of winners who’s family claims to be happier:  58%
Percent of family’s who claim to be less happy:  37%

Probability that new family wealth will be gone by third generation: 90%
Percentage of lottery winner who had spent their entire winnings within 5 years:  44%
Percent of winners who have gained weight:  32%

Percent of winners who stay in their same job:  48%
Percent of lottery winners who still play the lottery on a weekly basis:  68%

Percent of winners who have given some money to their family:  83%
Percent of families who asked lottery winners for money: 29 %
Average number of friends men winners gave money to:  3
Average number of friends women winners gave money to: 1

***
What’s the conclusion?  A person probably will not significantly more happy because of winning the lottery, but they do have the capacity to sink into life’s new problems.  Family problems, stress about maintaining wealth, and dealing with the greed of others are the particular leading causes. 

Empirical research in the field of psychology and economics has found that people do get happier as their income increases only up to the point where they are financially comfortable.  Statistics show that level is about $75,000, after which happiness and life satisfaction ratings level off.

We wish you luck playing the lottery next time, and hope you win it big – but don’t expect it to make you happy in life.

2 comments:

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