SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The saying goes that money can’t buy happiness, but the percentage of Californians who consider themselves very happy rises according to income level.

Forty-one percent of higher income Californians surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California reported being very happy, compared to 25% of lower income residents.

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“There are significant differences in health and happiness between people who have higher incomes and people who have lower incomes,” said pollster Mark Baldassare.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

Where respondents could afford to live appears to play a big role in how they perceive their health and safety, he said.

“Californians believe that the conditions in which we live will influence the type of health that you have.”

Forty-six percent of the 2,500 Californians participating said their health is excellent or very good. But 38 percent of those who earn more than $80,000 a year reported being in excellent health, compared to 15 percent for those who make less than $40,000 annually.

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Baldassare said the institute’s first-ever survey on happiness found conditions such as crime, pollution and the quality of schools seem to shape respondents’ perceptions as much as access to medical treatment.

Health care reform and the impact of the deficit on state programs also figured in respondents’ answers, he said.

“Many Californians recognize that there needs to be a role for government and for community groups to assure that the conditions in communities provide for healthy outcomes.”

Overall nearly eight in 10 Californians said they are happy or pretty happy with their lives.

Results of the statewide survey were released Wednesday.

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