We don’t know if money buys happiness — but winning money sure can help.
That’s what two European economists found after analyzing hundreds of lottery winners in Germany. The new research, outlined in a chapter in the book The Economics of Happiness, finds that winning the lottery raises people’s satisfaction with both their incomes and their lives overall.
This is big news because it contradicts earlier studies that found little evidence of a link between well-being and winning the lottery. In fact, depending which study you cite, you could say winning the lottery has no resulting effect on happiness, diminishes physical health, or that it even worsens mental health for lower-income winners.
You’ve likely seen those negative findings highlighted every time there’s a big Powerball or Mega Millions prize in the news. On the one hand, it makes sense that we’d enjoy reading about unhappy lotto winners. After all, it’s a lot easier to be OK with continually buying a losing lottery ticket if science suggests winning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Yet all those previous studies apparently suffer from the same common problem: small sample sizes. In fact, the pioneering study in this area looked at just 22 lottery winners.
The authors of the new research say they have access to a bigger set of lottery winners than almost any other study on the topic. They started with a set of 617 winners in Germany, and the researchers narrowed it to those who won at least the equivalent of about $2,770 for a total of 342 winners, according to Vox.
In other words: Duh. Winning the lottery sounds great because it is great.