The researchers in this recent study on the connection between autonomy vs. money in individuals’ well being were interested in the equation on a large scale. They want to figure out whether nations can improve the general sense of well being among their citizens by trying to increase wealth, or by trying to provide a way for people to have greater control over their lives. What they found was that as long people have enough money to meet basic needs, autonomy has:
…overall a larger and more consistent effect on well-being than money does. Money leads to autonomy… but it does not add to well-being or happiness.