Giving Compass' Take:

• For those struggling to afford bare necessities, money is a significant barrier to well-being and happiness. 

• What is the cutoff point where money no longer makes an impact?

• Is giving cash to victims the best way to respond to natural disasters? Click here to find out. 

Can money buy happiness? Armed with new data-driven evidence from poorest segments of the population in rural Africa, our answer is a resounding yes.

However, this relationship is not straight forward, and has been the subject of considerable debate. More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Democritus wrote: “Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul.”

Yet, ask anyone living on less than a dollar a day struggling to put food on the table, and they would probably disagree — income can help alleviate suffering and buy access to basic needs.

Understanding this relationship is of intrinsic and instrumental importance in development. While subjective well-being is an end in itself, it is also linked to better educational and health outcomes, improved social relationships and economic outcomes including productivity, savings, and consumption. Unsurprisingly, happiness has become the focus of scholarship not limited to philosophers but also psychologists, sociologists, and — most recently — economists.

Read more about the impact of money on Africa by Luisa Natali, Amber Peterman and Kelly Kilburn at Devex.