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Which would you prefer: An $80,000 job with reasonable work hours and seven and a half hours of sleep each night, or a $140,000 job with long work hours and just six hours of sleep? A new [Cornell] study … found that most people would pick the higher-paying job with more hours and less sleep.
Such a finding would be wholly unsurprising … if it weren’t for … surveys … telling us for years now that people are valuing more vacation time or more flexible hours over better pay. People leave jobs not just because they aren’t paid enough, study after study tells us, but because they don’t get the attention they should, they don’t like their boss, or they don’t feel they have enough development opportunities. … Researchers found that beyond a household income of $75,000 a year, money apparently “does nothing for happiness, enjoyment, sadness or stress.” …
[But] after years of research that seems to say more and more money is mattering less and less, … it still matters plenty. The Cornell study asked more than 2,600 participants to consider which option would make them happier, and even asked them if they thought their responses might be in error. Just 7 percent said they thought they were making a mistake, and only 23 percent admitted they might regret making such a choice between money and lifestyle. (more; study)
That study finds, however, that even though money matters, expected happiness is still the single best predictor of choices:
The aspects that systematically contribute most to explaining choice, controlling for own [subjective well-being], are sense of purpose, control over life, family happiness, and social status. … Across our scenarios, populations, and methods, [subjective well-being] is by far the single best predictor of choice. (more)