Buying time promotes happiness

Ashley V. Whillans*, Elizabeth W. Dunn, Paul Smeets, Rene Bekkers, Michael I. Norton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Around the world, increases in wealth have produced an unintended consequence: a rising sense of time scarcity. We provide evidence that using money to buy time can provide a buffer against this time famine, thereby promoting happiness. Using large, diverse samples from the United States, Canada, Denmark, and The Netherlands (n = 6,271), we show that individuals who spend money on time-saving services report greater life satisfaction. A field experiment provides causal evidence that working adults report greater happiness after spending money on a timesaving purchase than on a material purchase. Together, these results suggest that using money to buy time can protect people from the detrimental effects of time pressure on life satisfaction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8523-8527
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2017


  • time
  • money
  • happiness
  • well-being


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