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The Relationship Between Money and Happiness

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Charting the Relationship Between Money and Happiness

Charting the Relationship Between Money and Happiness

Today’s chart is best viewed full-screen. Explore the high resolution version by clicking here.

Can money buy you happiness?

It’s a longstanding question that has many different answers, depending on who you ask.

Today’s chart approaches this fundamental question from a data-driven perspective, and it provides one potential solution: money does buy some happiness, but only to a limited extent.

Money and Happiness

First, a thinking exercise.

Let’s say you have two hypothetical people: one of them is named Beff Jezos and he’s a billionaire, and the other is named Jill Smith and she has a more average net worth. Who do you think would be happiest if their wealth was instantly doubled?

Beff might be happy that he’s got more in the bank, but materially his life is unlikely to change much – after all, he’s a billionaire. On the flipside, Jill also has more in the bank and is likely able to use those additional resources to provide better opportunities for her family, get out of debt, or improve her work-life balance.

These resources translate to real changes for Jill, potentially increasing her level of satisfaction with life.

Just like these hypotheticals, the data tells a similar story when we look at countries.

The Data-Driven Approach

Today’s chart looks at the relationship between GDP per capita (PPP) and the self-reported levels of happiness of each country. Sources for data are the World Bank and the World Happiness Report 2017.

According to the numbers, the relationship between money and happiness is strong early on for countries. Then later, when material elements of Maslow’s hierarchy are met, the relationship gets harder to predict.

In general, this means that as a country’s wealth increases from $10k to $20k per person, it will likely slide up the happiness scale as well. For a double from $30k to $60k, the relationship still holds – but it tends to have far more variance. This variance is where things get interesting.

Outlier Regions

Some of the most obvious outliers can be found in Latin America and the Middle East:

Latin America vs. Middle East

In Latin America, people self-report that they are more satisfied than the trend between money and happiness would predict.

Costa Rica stands out in particular here, with a GDP per capita of $15,400 and a 7.14 rating on the Cantril Ladder (which is a measure of happiness). Whether it’s the country’s rugged coastlines or the local culture that does the trick, Costa Rica has higher happiness ratings than the U.S., Belgium, or Germany – all countries with far higher levels of wealth.

In the Middle East, the situation is mostly reversed. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, and the U.A.E. are all on the other side of the trend line.

Outlier Countries

Within regions, there is even plenty of variance.

We just mentioned the Middle East as a place where the wealth-happiness continuum doesn’t seem to hold up as well as it does in other places in the world.

Interestingly, in Qatar, which is actually the wealthiest country in the world on a per capita basis ($127k), things are even more out of whack. Qatar only scores a 6.37 on the Cantril Ladder, making it a big exception even within the context of the already-outlying Middle East.

Nearby Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., and Oman are all poorer than Qatar per capita, yet they are happier places. Oman rates a 6.85 on the satisfaction scale, with less than one-third the wealth per capita of Qatar.

There are other outlier jurisdictions on the list as well: Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Pakistan are all significantly happier than the trend line (or their regional location) would project. Meanwhile, places like Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, and Luxembourg are less happy than wealth would predict.

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Chart of the Week

The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game – here are the countries and regions projected to contribute the most to global growth in 2019.

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The Economies Adding the Most to Global Growth in 2019

Global economics is effectively a numbers game.

As long as the data adds up to economic expansion on a worldwide level, it’s easy to keep the status quo rolling. Companies can shift resources to the growing segments, and investors can put capital where it can go to work.

At the end of the day, growth cures everything – it’s only when it dries up that things get hairy.

Breaking Down Global Growth in 2019

Today’s chart uses data from Standard Chartered and the IMF to break down where economic growth is happening in 2019 using purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. Further, it also compares the share of the global GDP pie taken by key countries and regions over time.

Let’s start by looking at where global growth is forecasted to occur in 2019:

Country or RegionShare of Global GDP Growth (PPP) in 2019F
China33%
Other Asia (Excl. China/Japan)29%
United States11%
Middle East & North Africa4%
Euro Area4%
Latin America & Caribbean3%
Other Europe3%
Sub-Saharan Africa2%
Japan1%
United Kingdom1%
Canada1%
Rest of World8%

The data here mimics some of the previous estimates we’ve seen from Standard Chartered, such as this chart which projects the largest economies in 2030.

Asia as a whole will account for 63% of all global GDP growth (PPP) this year, with the lion’s share going to China. Countries like India and Indonesia will contribute to the “Other Asia” share, and Japan will only contribute 1% to the global growth total.

In terms of developed economies, the U.S. will lead the pack (11%) in contributing to global growth. Europe will add 8% between its various sub-regions, and Canada will add 1%.

Share of Global Economy Over Time

Based on the above projections, we were interested in taking a look at how each region or country’s share of global GDP (PPP) has changed over recent decades.

This time, we used IMF projections from its data mapper tool to loosely approximate the regions above, though there are some minor differences in how the data is organized.

Country or RegionShare of GDP (PPP, 1980)Share of GDP (PPP, 2019F)Change
Developing Asia8.9%34.1%+25.2 pp
European Union29.9%16.0%-13.9 pp
United States21.6%15.0%-6.6 pp
Latin America & Caribbean12.2%7.4%-4.8 pp
Middle East & North Africa8.6%6.5%-2.1 pp
Sub-Saharan Africa2.4%3.0%+0.6 pp

In the past 40 years or so, Developing Asia has increased its share of the global economy (in PPP terms) from 8.9% to an estimated 34.1% today. This dominant region includes China, India, and other fast-growing economies.

The European Union and the United States combined for 51.5% of global productivity in 1980, but they now account for 31% of the total economic mix. Similarly, the Latin America and MENA regions are seeing similar decreases in their share of the economic pie.

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Map: Cities With the Most Ultra-Rich Residents

What cities are the world’s ultra-rich flocking to? This map looks at ultra high net worth individual (UHNWI) growth rates in cities around the world.

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Mapped: The Cities With the Most Ultra-Rich Residents

As of 2018, there is a grand total of 198,342 ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) globally with assets over US$30 million, according to the most recent edition of Knight Frank’s Wealth Report.

Although these millionaires and billionaires can be found all over the globe, the reality is that most of the world’s ultra-rich population tends to congregate in world-class cities.

Generally speaking, UHNWIs are looking to live in places that are conducive to safeguarding and growing their wealth, but that also give them access to top-end amenities that allow them to live comfortably and luxuriously.

Top 10 Cities for the Ultra-Rich

To start, we’ll look at a list of global cities, organized by expected number of UHNWIs in 2023:

RankCityUHNWIs (2018)UHNWIs (2023e)Change (%)
#1🇬🇧 London4,9446,01521.7%
#2🇸🇬 Singapore3,5984,39322.1%
#3🇯🇵 Tokyo3,7324,12510.5%
#4🇺🇸 New York City3,3783,89115.2%
#5🇨🇳 Beijing1,6732,24734.3%
#6🇫🇷 Paris1,6672,03121.8%
#7🇰🇷 Seoul1,5942,02026.7%
#8🇹🇼 Taipei1,5191,86422.7%
#9🇨🇭 Zurich1,5071,79619.2%
#10🇨🇳 Shanghai1,2631,69033.8%

London continues to top the list, with a roster of 4,944 ultra-rich residents today and the projected growth over the coming years to eclipse the 6,000 mark by 2023.

Tokyo has the second highest amount of UHNWIs today, but the city is adding them at a slower rate than other rival cities. As a result, Singapore will move into the #2 spot overall by 2023, with an expected total of 4,393 high net worth residents.

Finally, it’s worth noting that only two cities on the top 10 list are expected to see growth above a 30% clip over this five-year period. Shanghai and Beijing could be cities to watch for decades to come, as they add millionaires and billionaires at a faster rate than any of the other heavyweights.

Fastest Growing Cities

Where are the billionaire meccas of the future?

Here are the 10 cities that are expected to add UHNWIs the fastest between 2018-2023:

RankCityUHNWIs (2018)UHNWIs (2023e)Change (%)
#1🇮🇳 Mumbai7971,10138.1%
#2🇮🇳 Delhi21129137.9%
#3🇵🇭 Manila 11515736.5%
#4🇨🇳 Shenzhen52770834.3%
#5🇨🇳 Beijing1,6732,24734.3%
#6🇨🇳 Guangzhou39452934.3%
#7🇨🇳 Shanghai1,2631,69033.8%
#8🇮🇩 Jakarta40152931.9%
#9🇲🇾 Kuala Lumpur37649631.9%
#10🇰🇷 Seoul1,5942,02026.7%

Not surprisingly, all 10 of these cities are located in Asia.

Two Indian cities (Delhi and Mumbai) top the list, and are likely to add nearly 40% to their ultra-rich populations over the next five years. China also has a strong showing here.

Interestingly, just missing the above top 10 were a few non-Asian cities: Auckland (#11), Madrid (#12), Munich (#13), and Nairobi (#14) are all expected to grow their UHNWI populations by roughly 25% by 2023.

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