Riches v. Relations: Family More Valuable Than Money

In these times of economic strife it makes sense that many of us are focusing on finances as a measure of our contentment. But according to new research, strong familial relationships actually do more to improve our sense of happiness than the amount of money we make.

The study, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Family Psychology, followed 274 married adults across 10 years and investigated the relationship between family income and happiness. The data revealed that money and contentment were connected only to the point at which one’s basic needs were met. This positive impact actually diminished as household income increased. Meanwhile, family social support – measured in terms of cohesion, expressiveness, and conflict – had more bearing on happiness when a family’s income was low than when income was higher. Improvements in family relationships positively affected happiness, while advances in income had no impact on change in happiness.

Concluding that the data show happiness to be a value capable of change, the researchers emphasized the importance of further inquiry into the role of family relationships in guiding that change. One may hypothesize that improving family connections and communications could do much to enrich a family’s outlook, in spite of stressful economic hardship.