Does more money make some people more miserable?

Yes. 2% of people get more unhappy as they make more money.

Why? Two reasons might be 1) Divorce and 2) they’re more likely to have friends who have even more money than they do, so they still feel low on the totem pole.

From Harvard Business Review:

While 98% of people get a bit more satisfaction out of life (but not a lot) when their incomes rise, the remaining 2% are known as “frustrated achievers”—more money only makes them more unhappy, according to a team led by Leonardo Becchetti of the University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy. Studying data on UK households, the researchers found that 70% of the frustrated achievers are female, and divorce is more common among this group than among the rest of the population.

The study abstract gives a little more insight:

We investigate the relationship between money and happiness across the waves of the British Household Panel Study by using a latent class approach which accounts for slope heterogeneity. Our findings reveal the presence of a vast majority of “Easterlin-type” individuals with positive but very weak relationship between changes in income and changes in happiness and a small minority (2 percent) of “frustrated achievers” with negative relationship. Such share is much below descriptive evidence on frustrated achievement (17.5 percent). The probability of belonging to such group is shown to be positively related with divorced status and negatively related to education and relative (personal to reference group) income. Our interpretation of these results is that the standard concave money-happiness relationship provides a partial and incomplete picture of the complex nexus between happiness and income as it does not take into account two important phenomena: the role of peers and of reference group income and that of the dynamics between realisations and expectations.

Source: “The Heterogeneous Effects of Income Changes on Happiness” from Social Indicators Research, Volume 104, Number 3, 387-406

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