A Century of Service. Giving for Good.

Harvard Study Finds Money Can Buy Happiness, as Long as it is Spent on Others

The Harvard Business School recently completed a study of people in 136 diverse countries who engage in using their financial resources to help others.  The researchers called this kind of charitable giving prosocial spending and reported that, similar to sex and eating, “generosity generates positive feelings in almost everyone, regardless of cultural context.”

 Here’s an excerpt:

“… the present studies provide the first evidence for a possible psychological universal: Human beings everywhere may experience emotional benefits from using their financial resources to benefit others. Within the vast majority of the world’s countries, we find a consistent positive relationship between prosocial spending and well-being, whereby individuals who have recently made donations to charity report greater subjective well-being, even controlling for individual differences in income. Focusing on two of these countries—Canada and Uganda—that differ dramatically in national-level income and donation frequency, we find that individuals report significantly greater well-being after reflecting on a time when they spent money on others rather than themselves. This effect emerged consistently across these two cultures, even though the specific prosocial spending experiences participants described differed considerably. Thus, although prosocial spending differs in both frequency (Study 1) and form (Study 2) in poor versus wealthy countries, its emotional consequences are remarkably consistent.”

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