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Study Flips a Theory on Lottery Winners on Its Head

Researchers say the money does make people happier
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2019 8:41 AM CDT
A shop employee in Atlanta holds Mega Millions lottery tickets on Oct. 22, 2018.   (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

(Newser) – Regardless of life adjustments and pushy relatives demanding cash, winning the lottery really does make a person more satisfied. That's according to University of Warwick economists, who gained access "to more winners with economically substantial winning amounts than almost any other study before us." Andrew J. Oswald and Rainer Winkelmann argue previous studies of lottery winners—including a 1978 analysis that found 22 winners were not much happier than non-winners—were simply too small to produce statistically significant effects, resulting in conflicting information, per Vox. Hoping to clear it up, they used German records to identify 342 lottery winners who'd taken home at least $2,770, and found they weren't pining for a simpler life.

The sudden influx of cash had not only boosted satisfaction with income but also satisfaction with life overall, per Yahoo. "The effects documented here are, as might be expected, especially pronounced for big wins," say the German scientists, whose work was published last week in The Economics of Happiness. There's still more work to be done. The study doesn't offer insights into when satisfaction levels might peak or falter, for instance. But for now, Oswald and Winkelmann are happy to contribute to a field of research they say offers "almost no evidence that winners become happier." That said, a 2018 study of 3,362 lottery winners identified "sustained increases in overall life satisfaction that persist for over a decade," per Deseret News. (This lottery winner just turned up dead.)

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