- Eric Vidal/Reuters
- Bill Gates said in a Reddit AMA that being a billionaire has made him happier because he doesn’t worry about the cost of healthcare or education.
- But Gates added that you don’t need a billion dollars to alleviate financial stress.
- Recent research suggests that money can boost life satisfaction and emotional well-being, up to a certain point.
In a recent AMA, a Redditor asked Bill Gates if being a billionaire has made him happier than if he were just a middle-class person.
Gates didn’t beat around the bush.
“Yes,” he wrote. “I don’t have to think about health costs or college costs. Being free from worry about financial things is a real blessing.”
The cost of healthcare is rising rapidly in the US. Business Insider’s Zachary Tracer reported that the combined cost of insurance premiums and deductibles was nearly $7,240 (or about 11.7% of the median income) in 2017. A decade before that, it was 7.8%.
Things don’t look rosier in the education front. As Business Insider’s Hillary Hoffower reported, average tuition at a private college increased from $27,500 in the 2007-08 academic year to $34,700 in 2017-18. Meanwhile, wages are increasing at a much slower pace.
For what it’s worth, Gates never finished college at Harvard. He and his wife, Melinda, have three kids. The eldest, Jennifer, recently graduated from Stanford.
That wasn’t all Gates had to say about his relative advantages as a wealthy person. “Of course you don’t need a billion to get to that point,” he added. “We do need to reduce the cost growth in these areas so they are accessible to everyone.”
A discussion ensued in the comments about the growing body of research on whether money can buy you happiness.
One of the most recent studies on the topic was published in 2018 in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. The researchers found that, across the globe, life satisfaction peaks around $95,000, while emotional well-being peaks in the $60,000 to $75,000 range. (Those numbers refer to annual income for individuals, not families.) In fact, beyond that point, life satisfaction and emotional well-being tend to be lower.
Another Redditor asked Gates to share what makes him happy. Gates didn’t cite money, instead writing, “Some recently said that when your children are doing well, it really is very special, and as a parent I completely agree.”
Another happiness booster? Gates wrote, “Sometimes following through on commitments to yourself like doing more exercise also improves your happiness.”