Need to Know

Buying Happiness

Researchers find link between hiring services and contentment.

By Monica Mehta

Fall 2017

Want to be happier? Pay someone to clean your house or cut your lawn, says a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found a consistent link between buying time and increased happiness across incomes, demographics, and geographies.

But it can be hard to spend on services. In a survey of 800 Dutch millionaires, just over half said they pay to outsource their to-do lists. “We want to feel that we can do it all—even when it would make us happier not to,” says Ashley Whillans, the study’s lead author.

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Illustration by Wes Rowell