A study of US college students (published in 2001) concluded that the most satisfying experiences stemmed from fulfillment of the top four needs of autonomy, competence, relatedness and self-esteem, and the most unsatisfying experiences corresponded to the lack of those psychological needs. Physical thriving, security, meaning and pleasure ranked midway between the top four needs and bottom two, which were popularity/influence and money/luxury. Past studies also support the conclusion that while Americans have been getting richer in recent decades, their emotional well-being has not improved, and that wealthier people generally are no happier as a group than the less well-off.
That money does not make us happier, once our basic needs are met, is a commonplace overwhelmingly confirmed by sociological evidence. Bigger incomes do not yield an increase in feelings of satisfaction or well-being, at least for populations who are above a poverty or subsistence level. This cannot be explained simply by the fact that people have to work harder to earn more money. Well-being depends upon health, membership in a community in which one feels secure, friends, faith, family, love, and virtues that money cannot buy.
Money often is connected to the other factors, including security and autonomy.