Winning the lottery does have an impact on your overall happiness, a new study has revealed.
The research, undertaken by Andrew J. Oswald and Rainer Winkelmann from the University of Warwick, challenges past conclusions that there is ‘no evidence winners become happier’ after their lottery success.
The economists used data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to explore whether or not a group of 342 people who had lottery wins in the past 15 years saw a significant increase in happiness after the cash boost.
Those in the sample all saw wins larger than 2,500 euros (£2,210), with the average lottery win above 20,000 euros (£17,687) per household.
The research, undertaken by Andrew J. Oswald and Rainer Winkelmann, challenges past conclusions that there is ‘no evidence winners become happier’ after their lottery success
Oswald and Winkelmann then ‘extracted information’ from all adults in the households for the year in which they reported the win as well as the years before and after.
This included information about their overall life satisfaction, and their satisfaction with their household income.
‘Our estimates show that lottery wins raise people’s satisfaction with their overall income. Second, lottery wins’ increase people’s satisfaction with life,’ the economists said in the study, which was released last week.
The conclusion of a ‘positive effect’ was especially pronounced for households which experienced ‘big wins’.
‘The biggest effect is present for people who won an amount of 100,000 euros or above in the previous year,’ the report said. ‘Their reported life satisfaction is estimated to be increased by 0.5 on the 0–10 scale relative to non-winners.’
According to Oswald and Winkelmann, the chapter, published within The Economics of Happiness, challenges past academics who found ‘almost no evidence that winners become happier’.
The economists used data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to explore whether a group of 342 people who have had lottery wins in the past 15 years saw an increase in happiness
The pair said they were able to offer results ‘more in accord with common sense and economic theory’ by analyzing a ‘greater number’ of large winners than has been possible in the past.
Their theory was first explored by Phillip Brickman and his colleagues in 1978, who considered whether big life events – like winning the lottery – had any impact on happiness.
Brickman was testing adaptation-level theory, which says those who experience major positive life events should not be considerably happier, because they struggle to find joy in ordinary events.
The academics interviewed 29 paralyzed victims, 22 lottery winners, and 22 people who were neither winners nor victims for the study.
All those involved in the study were asked to rate how happy they were at the time, and how happy they anticipated being in two years.
Michael Carroll (pictured), who squandered away his £9.7million lottery win on cars and drugs, said losing his fortune was the ‘best thing that happened to him’
Colin and Christine Weir (pictured), who won the EuroMillions lottery in 2011, announced in April that they are set to divorce, eight years after winning a £161million prize
Brickman’s results supported his theory: people who experienced positive events were indeed not happier than the other two groups by a significant amount.
Another contrasting study, undertaken by Gardner and Oswald in 2007, found that Britons who received ‘medium-sized’ lottery wins of between £1,000 and £120,000 experienced ‘significantly better psychological health.’
A third paper, however, concluded that a significant increase in income causes a mental-health improvement but a ‘rise in risky behaviours’ like smoking and drinking.
And Dutch academic Kuhn found in 2011 that ‘lottery shock income’ does not ‘affect winners’ happiness, nor does it affect their neighbours’ happiness.’
Michael Carroll famously became known as the Lotto Lout after he scooped a £9.7million lottery win in 2002, but squandered away the money on fast cars, drink and drugs.
This year, he revealed he is now earning £10 an hour working as a lumberjack at a fuel merchant’s firm in Elgin, Scotland – and he is happier than ever.
Callie Rogers (pictured) spent her £1.87million fortune on cosmetic surgery, drugs and partying, but she said she is now much happier
But despite the fact he no longer has a home or a car to call ‘his own’, Mr Carroll insisted he is ‘not bitter’ about the loss of wealth.
Speaking to the Sun, he said: ‘I hump around 50kg bags of coal and I chop the logs that are sold at filling stations.
‘My £10million vanished in just ten years and I don’t have a home or a car to call my own. But I’m not bitter.’
According to Carroll, becoming broke is the ‘best thing that happened to him’, adding: he ‘had a great time doing it’.
Colin and Christine Weir, who won the EuroMillions lottery in 2011, announced in April that they are set to divorce, eight years after winning a £161million prize.
Disaster also struck for Callie Rogers, who quickly spent her £1.87million fortune on cosmetic surgery, drugs and partying.
But the mother-of-three, who was just 16 when she won the lottery, said she longed to go back to a ‘normal life’ after her win, and is now much happier.