People living in remote Indigenous communities are as happy as those in wealthy developed countries despite having “very little money”, according to new scientific research that could challenge the widely held perception that “money buys happiness”.
Researchers who interviewed 2,966 people in 19 Indigenous and local communities across the world found that on average they were as happy – if not happier – as the average person in high-income western countries.
“Surprisingly, many populations with very low monetary incomes report very high average levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in wealthy countries,” said Eric Galbraith, the lead author of the study which was published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “I would hope that, by learning more about what makes life satisfying in these diverse communities, it might help many others to lead more satisfying lives while addressing the sustainability crisis.”
The study by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), found that people in the 19 isolated communities reported an average “life satisfaction score” of 6.8 out of 10 “even though most of the sites have estimated annual monetary incomes of less than US$1,000 (£800) per person”.