Pursuing the 'American Dream' Can Be a Real Downer

Tight housing inventories, rising prices, and conservative mortgage lenders are preventing many would-be homeowners from buying their piece of the 'American Dream'. Michelle Higgins explains why this may actually be a good thing.
July 15, 2013, 1pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"A growing body of research suggests that spending money on real estate doesn’t necessarily mean investing in contentment," writes Higgins. "Indeed, the conventional advice to cut back on vacations, restaurant meals and other extras in order to save money for a home may actually be detrimental to felicity. Experts in happiness — an increasingly popular field focused on the scientific understanding of emotional well-being — say that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material goods, whether it be a new car or a bigger apartment."

“People still view housing as a central component of happiness and a critical aspect of the American dream,” said Elizabeth Dunn, an associate professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “But there is little research to support that.”

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Published on Friday, July 12, 2013 in The New York Times
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