Illustrated by Austin Watts
Catching a weekly dinner with friends. Breaking up with your S.O. Going to happy hour with your co-workers. Saying hello to your neighbor as you rush out the door. We all know social interactions (from large gatherings to casual, daily encounters) have a huge impact on our emotional and mental states — but, have you ever tried to think of how much our relationships are worth in economic terms?
An article recently published on The Atlantic analyzes why relationships are so central to a flourishing life. Citing Matthew Lieberman's new book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, out this month, the post discusses the importance of social interactions and how our basic need to belong to a community and create relationships motivates a seriously remarkable range of our feelings, actions, and thoughts.
Furthermore, if you go as far as to put a price tag on our relationships, as economists have, you get an even clearer idea of just how valuable they are — and how damaging it is when they're torn apart. According to the article, if you have a friend that you hang out with a lot, it’s comparable to earning $100,000 more each year. If you volunteer once a week, it's like moving your income up from $20,000 to $75,000. Even seeing your neighbor regularly "gives" you $60,000 a year more. Conversely, if you lose an important connection, such as when you get a divorce, it’s as if you decrease your income by $90,000 a year. Crazy, right?