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International HNWs Divided On The Key To Happiness: Wealth Or Health?

Tara Loader Wilkinson, Asia Editor, Hong Kong, 17 January 2012

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Eighty-eight per cent of wealthy consumers in France cite money as the single most important catalyst for happiness, while the Chinese believe health is the key, says a new survey revealing how interpretations of happiness and its links to money differ around the world.

Intelligence firm The Luxury Institute surveyed wealthy consumers with minimum annual income of $150,000 (or the local currency equivalent that would put them in the top 10 per cent of earners in their country), from the world's top seven luxury markets, France, Japan, US, UK, China, Germany and Italy. Respondents were asked to rank the importance of 22 personal qualities in achieving happiness in their lives. The firm did not immediately confirm the size of the survey. 

Health, honesty and responsibility to loved ones are universal qualities held in high esteem by high net worth individuals worldwide, with more than two-thirds agreeing that happiness comes from having a happy life at home with good health, regardless of financial situation. But perhaps, already being rich, they would say that.

In the US, 92 per cent of wealthy consumers cite honesty, health and family responsibility as important personal qualities for achieving happiness.

Only 69 per cent of wealthy Americans say that wealth is a crucial consideration, compared to 88 per cent of wealthy consumers in France.

In China, 83 per cent of the rich say that wealth is essential for happiness, but not as important as health and responsibility to family.

The Chinese are also more inclined than wealthy shoppers from other nations to place a high premium on being admired and respected. Generosity is also critical for achieving happiness, cited by 82 per cent of both Chinese and US consumers.

Reflecting anxiety over the European debt crisis and the concerns about personal financial status are most pronounced in Italy, France and the UK.

In Japan, outright dissatisfaction is most prevalent, with a fifth of wealthy individuals saying that they do not consider themselves to be financially independent.

Almost half of Chinese respondents say that they are wealthy and financially independent, compared to 14 per cent of US consumers with a similarly buoyant assessment of their personal situation. Most Americans (60 per cent) call themselves financially "comfortable."

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