How much wealth is required for an 'absolutely ideal' life?

New research finds that most people do not want to be billionaires, in fact, far from it

How much wealth is required for an 'absolutely ideal' life?
Steve Randall

Everyone has a different view on the amount of money they would like to have, but what would you need for an “absolutely ideal life?”

That’s the question posed by researchers in an international study of almost 8,000 people in 33 countries across all six continents, which revealed little interest in becoming billionaires.  

The study was to discover whether people are so entrenched in a life of consumerism, that they have unlimited wants and are focused on accumulating unlimited wealth.

The team from the British universities of Bath, Bath Spa and Exeter found that this is not the case.

In 86% of countries, people said that their absolute ideal life would be achieved with US$10 million, while in some it was as little as $1 million.

Despite these seven-figure fortunes, this is across their whole life, which equates to a rather moderate requirement, that could be achieved for more than 200,000 people if Elon Musk was to share out his substantial wealth.

“The ideology of unlimited wants, when portrayed as human nature, can create social pressure for people to buy more than they actually want,” said lead researcher, Dr Paul Bain from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath. “Discovering that most people’s ideal lives are actually quite moderate could make it socially easier for people to behave in ways that are more aligned with what makes them genuinely happy and to support stronger policies to help safeguard the planet.”

Younger people want more

The study found that younger people, city dwellers, and those in countries with greater acceptance of wealth inequality were more likely to have unlimited wants.

But the researchers said that policies that allow the accumulation of unlimited wealth may not reflect the opinions of the majority, who may be more in favour of a wealth tax than may sometimes be portrayed.