The continual pursuit of more and more stuff in search of happiness is a pointless one- and schools have a role to play in making young people aware of the dangers of chasing money as a surrogate for happiness. On an optimistic level there’s a bit of evidence that this human fallibility of a pernicious drive for social comparison may have positive benefits if alternatively targeted. The role of education and the media is vitally important here.
Easterlin- still valid after more than 30 years "Work hard, get good GCSEs, get good A-levels, get a well paid job. Be happy". Sounds like good advice? In this current economic climate it sounds like a good deal. There is a fallacy here though: Money buys happiness, but only to a degree, and yet our national economic strategy seems to be focussed on promoting constant growth in our GDP at the expense of everything else. The relationship between money and happiness is a complex one. Myers (2010) illustrates with American data that there is no link between increases in mean GDP and mean happiness levels within a country. (Click the image to enlarge) International Patterns It is clear that there are differences in the mean happiness levels between nations. The map below is the University of Leicester’s model of international happiness levels: Much (but note, not all) of the higher happiness levels are associtaed with nations possessing higher GDP. This is illustrated in the graph below from Deaton (2007): A higher GDP is a proxy for a population having fuller access to the fundamentals of life- food, shelter, education, healthcare. As Layard (20031) remarks, “When you are near the bread-line, income really does matter”. Lanyard (2005), in his book Happiness: Lessons from a New Science  found that once a country has over $20,000 per head however, its level of happiness appears to be independent of its income per head. Habituation: The Hedonic Treadmill There is a paradox at play here. If you measure the happiness in any country at any moment, the richer individuals state that, on average, they are more happy than poorer individuals. However, over time, advanced societies have not become happier as they have become richer. We saw this in the graph at the top of this page, and the table below evidences the same phenomenon: The data above from Layard (20032) shows that in 1975, the top 25% and the bottom 25% of people in the USA had very different levels of happiness. In 1998, despite considerable increase in the amount of wealth held by each group, there had been no associated change in the absolute or relative happiness levels. It’s not the absolute amount of wealth that you have that dictates happiness- something else must be at play. Easterlin (1974) identified this paradox, and hypothesized that it was a consequence of people adjusting or habituating  to their level of the wealth and the new things they spend it on. In their lives people effectively become addicted to spending. Advertisers are well aware of this, and constantly bombard us with invitations to ‘feed our addiction’ through more and more spending on nice new shiny things. Keeping up with the Jones’s: The danger of social comparison A finding that students will intuitively understand- if you explain it to them- is that it's not the amount they own that seems to drive people’s assessments of their happiness- it's how what they have compares to what their mates have- the value of bragging rights. The work of Boyce et al (2010) gives contemporary support for Easterlin's classic hypothesis of a hedonic treadmill driving consumption and setting values, and shows how reference income and the rank that people associate with income differentials may drive measures of individual happiness. Once we have enough, we are only happier when we have a 'more' that makes us better off, in our eyes, than our peers. Layard (2005) provides a number of studies which illustrate how a rise in the income of members of a person’s reference group hurts their happiness. The relationship between income and happiness is not linear. A plot of log (income) against happiness is more so, and shows that the increasing happiness provided by wealth becomes less and less the more a person earns. After a certain amount of income, happiness ceases to rise with income, presumably because you can afford all of the sundries ‘required’ by the national social reference (as described by the majority and the mainstream media). This pivot point is high though- enough to make the average teacher's eyes water: approximately £50,000 per year. (Kahneman and Deaton, 2010).  
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