Does money equal happiness

In two recent studies we’re get a good idea of the relationship between wealth and happiness by comparing the net worth of cities with their quality of living rating. The intersection between the two is quite fascinating.

Each year Human Resources consulting firm Mercer publishes their Quality of living Index which ranks the livability and enjoyment of life in cities around the world. As well South African-based research form New World Wealth has recently compiled a study of the world’s richest cities which tracks the total wealth of each city by including all assets (property, cash, equities, business interests) less any liabilities. Government funds are excluded from these figures. 

Cities by total wealth. ($ trillion)

New York City: 3

London: 2.7

Tokyo: 2.5

San Francisco: 2.3

Beijing: 2.2

Shanghai: 2

Los Angeles: 1.4

Hong Kong: 1.3

Sydney: 1

Singapore: 1

Chicago: 0.98

Mumbai: 0.95

Toronto: 0.94

Frankfurt: 0.91

Paris: 0.86

As we can see by New World Media’s data Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, Singapore and Mumbai rank high on assets. A lot of this is of course real estate values and the finance industry.

In terms of happiness though, the cities which rank highest on the Mercer study are very different.

Happiest Cities Ranking
















As we can see only Sydney and Frankfurt make both lists.  So what are the learnings?  On the surface it appears as the cities with the most wealth are also not surprisingly the cities which have a high cost of living, whereas many of the most livable cities are actually still relatively affordable. As well the cities which rank higher on happiness are also cities with more public spaces like parks, free museums and vibrant arts and cultural events.

Basically it seems like the only saying is true, money can’t buy you happiness.