Poll: Money Is Making More People Satisfied

Money may not buy happiness, but it can certainly make one more satisfied with their life.

That’s one of the findings of a recent Siena Research Institute poll of New Yorkers in June. The poll, titled “New Yorkers’ Life Satisfaction,” included questions about financial condition, where one lives, work, health, recreation, family relationships, life partner relationships, friends, community, world direction and religious life.

When broken down by income levels, those making more than $100,000 a year are more satisfied (71.4 percent) than those making between $50,000 and $100,000 (69.1 percent) and those making less than $50,000 (62 percent). While all three income brackets are generally less satisfied than they were when the poll was last done in 2008, those making less than $50,000 are markedly less satisfied in financial condition (8.9 percent), residence (4.9 percent), work (7.1 percent), health (5.5 percent), recreation (9.2 percent), family relationships (3.7 percent), life partner relationship (3.5 percent) and community (4.5 percent).


New Yorkers are generally happy with their private lives and unhappy with their financial condition and the direction the world is going.

Forty-four percent of New Yorkers are more satisfied with their life today than they were a year ago while 17 percent are less satisfied and 39 percent are as satisfied today as they were a year ago.

Of eleven aspects of life, New Yorkers were most satisfied with relationships with their family (57 percent completely satisfied) and their life partner or significant other (56 percent completely satisfied) followed by their satisfaction with friends, acquaintances and contacts (44 percent completely satisfied). Eighty-four percent are either somewhat (38 percent) or completely (46 percent) satisfied with matters that call to mind their religion or spiritual life.

Conversely, 18 percent of New Yorkers responded to the poll that they are completely satisfied with their financial condition and 34 percent said they are either not very satisfied or not at all satisfied. A large majority, 70 percent, are either not very or not at all satisfied with the world as a whole including political, economic, social and environmental issues and trends, and the direction the world is going.

See POLL, Page A3

From Page A1

One third of residents are completely satisfied with their work, that is, the job, vocation or tasks in which they engage on a daily basis, 31 percent are completely satisfied with their current health and vitality and 25 percent are completely satisfied with what they do for recreation including physical activities, travel or other activities.

“It’s been 10 years since we asked New Yorkers these questions about life satisfaction,” said Don Levy, Siena College Research Institute director. “We were surprised to find that the overall score in eight of the eleven areas were lower today than in 2008. Given that 2008 saw a recession, we expected satisfaction with personal finances to be higher today than 10 years ago but it has fallen.”


In order to compare satisfaction across the 11 areas over the past 10 years and between various groups, institute officials computed the scores based on whether a respondent said they were completely, somewhat, not very or not at all satisfied. A score of 100 would result from every person saying they were completely satisfied and a score of zero would result if every person said that they were not at all satisfied. Respondents’ satisfaction with their life partner relationship is the same as it was in 2008 at 77.3 while satisfaction with world direction actually increased 1.3 percent to 33.5. Satisfaction with religion or spiritual life also increased slightly.

The largest decreases in happiness came in residence or location, where satisfaction decreased from 80.7 to 76 and in recreation, where happiness decreased from 65.1 to 61.1. Happiness with friends and acquaintances also decreased over the past 10 years from 79.6 to 76.3; happiness with financial condition decreased from 57.5 to 54.9 and happiness with work decreased from 71.5 to 69.4.

“The two lowest scores in both years and in every group are satisfaction with finances and satisfaction with the condition of the world. While we expected to see financial satisfaction up in 2018 relative to 2008 given a more vibrant economy today as compared with 2008, we find that financial satisfaction is slightly lower overall,” Levy said. Satisfaction with the political and economic condition of the world is dramatically lower than satisfaction with every other aspect of life and varies very little across time and demographics.


The Siena poll found that based on political party Republicans are more satisfied than Democrats or independents in all 11 measurements while showing more satisfaction in their financial condition, family relationships, community, world direction and religion/spiritual life. Democrats are also more satisfied with their financial condition, family relationships and life partner relationship. Independent or other political affilliations are generally less satisfied across all 11 measurements except for world direction (0.4 increase).

Differences also crop up when the results are broken down by region. New York City residents are generally less satisfied than both residents of suburbs and of upstate. Upstate residents, meanwhile, are less satisfied in nine of the 11 categories, including financial condition (4.9 percent), residence/location (5.9 percent), work (1.1 percent), current health and vitality (4.4 percent), recreation (5.1 percent), family relationships (1.2 percent), life partner relationship (1.6 percent), friends and acquaintances (3.9 percent) and community (1.1 percent).


Differences were also seen according to race and ethnicity. While white respondents were generally less satisfied than they were 10 years ago, particularly with residence and current health and vitality, black respondents were less satisfied in all 11 categories, including a decreases of 5.7 in financial condition, of 7.2 percent in residence/location, 2.9 percent in work, 9.1 percent in current health and vitality, 11 percent in recreation, 4.8 percent in family relationships, 6.5 percent in community and 7.5 percent in world direction. In addition to decreasing satisfaction, black respondents also were less satisfied than their white counterparts in all categories. Latino respondents, on the other hand, weren’t as satisfied as white respondents but are generally more satisfied than they were in 2008 and respondents were more satisfied than black respondents in all categories.

Senior citizens are the most satisfied of any age group (18-34, 35-49, 50-64 or over 65), particularly in financial condition, residence/location, work, religion/spiritual life and community. Seniors also seem more satisfied now than they were 10 years ago wtih the direction of the world while those between the age of 18 and 34 are less satisfied with world direction now than they were in 2008.

“Today young people, age 18-34 are less satisfied with every aspect of life than those that are 65 and older except when it comes to health and vitality,” Levy said. “Young people are less satisfied than the overall population. And it does seem that money makes you more satisfied as those earning $100K or more are more satisfied than those earning less than $50K in not only the financial condition category but in every other category as well with the one exception of religion/spirituality.”