Posted by: zyxo | May 29, 2010

Comparing salaries and bad conclusions make me unhappy.


Comparing salary with others makes you unhappy. Apparently this is the conclusion from a questionary where people where asked some questions about with whom they compare their salaries and how happy they are.

Wrong conclusion ?

Maybe there is a correlation between salary comparison and happiness. But a correlation 1) is not necessarily a proof of causal relationship and 2) if there is a causal relationship it does not explain what causes what ?

Is it correct that comparing salaries causes unhappiness ? Or is it the other way around ? Perhaps people who feel unhappy look for reasons why, or look for some information to feel more happy :”if I see that I earn more than my friends I will feel better” ?

If you feel happy with your job, It does not matter whether your salary is lower or higher than that of someone else.

Andrew Clark and Claudia Senik : If you want to investigate whether comparing salaries makes you unhappy, there is a better way :
1) first ask people how happy they are (I’m sure there are ways to quantify their happiness objectively)
2) ask them to go find out how much they earn compared to friends and family.
3) as them how happy they are, and how much they earn compared to friends and family (a lot more, some more, the same, some less, a lot less).
Compare the responses of 1) and 2) and make your conclusions.

Anyway, I do not think Andrew Clark and Claudia Senik drew those conclusions: it’s probably the media that added this perverse twist of causality.

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