Wealth is “not fundamentally required for humans to lead happy lives”, latest research demonstrates.

Academics from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) have found that native communities with a low monetary income tend to have happier lives compared to those living in wealthy countries.

This research has slammed previous findings that have said individuals in high-income countries feel more satisfied than people in low-income countries.

Experts believe that prior studies have overlooked people in small-scale societies on the fringes. Indigenous peoples tend to depend directly on nature rather than money, therefore it plays a small role in their day to day lives.

More than 2,960 individuals from Indigenous and local communities in 19 globally distributed sites took part in the study by filling in a survey.

More than 30% of the respondents had no monetary income into their household, the study has reported.

Lead author Eric Galbraith said: “The results show that surprisingly, many populations with very low monetary incomes report very high average levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in wealthy countries.”

People from small-scale societies scored 6.8 out of 10 on the average life satisfaction score, the results have revealed.

According to the study, not all societies reported being highly satisfied, with averages as low as 5.1 and as high as more than 8, typical of wealthy Scandinavian countries in other polls.

Joint author Victoria Reyes-Garcia said: “The strong correlation frequently observed between income and life satisfaction is not universal and proves that wealth – as generated by industrialised economies – is not fundamentally required for humans to lead happy lives.”

Factors that make Indigenous peoples happy include, family and social support and relationships, connections to nature and spirituality, according to the academics.

Eric Galbraith said: “It is possible that the important factors differ significantly between societies or, conversely, that a small subset of factors dominate everywhere.

“I would hope that, by learning more about what makes life satisfying in these diverse communities, it might help many others to lead more satisfying lives while addressing the sustainability crisis.”

This study has been published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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