“Comparison is the death of happiness”
An academic study has found that workers who compare their salaries to those of friends and family are less happy than those who do not.
Researchers believe that those who measure their success against other colleagues are more satisfied with life, however, as it allows them to guess how their careers might progress.
The report, published in the latest issue of the Economic Journal, concluded: “Those who compare to colleagues are happier than those who compare to friends or other groups.
Andrew Clark and Claudia Senik looked at results from the European Social Survey to find out how common it is for workers to worry about how much they are earning in comparison with others, and what effect it has on their outlook on life.
Studying 19,000 responses from employees in 18 countries, including Britain, they found that only a quarter said it was “not at all important” to compare their incomes with others.
Of those who did look enviously at the lifestyles and payslips of those around them, 36 per cent said they would be likely to compare their earnings with work colleagues while 21 per cent said they would look to their friends or family.
Britons were less likely to compare incomes than staff in Eastern Europe, while the low-paid and the self-employed were particularly keen to find about the wealth of others.
The researchers cross-checked frequency of income comparison with happiness, based on questions in the survey on how satisfied the respondents were with their life so far, their optimism about the future and how depressed they had felt in the past week.
They concluded: “Those who compare more are less happy. There is a negative and significant correlation between comparison intensity and subjective happiness.”