A Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Wellbeing in Australia
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The Indigenous people of Australia are severely disadvantaged according to a range of objective indicators. Unfortunately, the use of subjective indicators has been largely absent from the Indigenous policy domain. This is problematic because many things that matter to Indigenous peoples cannot be measured objectively. This paper addresses this gap; specifically, we employ a range of econometric techniques and Australian household data to explore the subjective wellbeing of Indigenous Australians in relation to: (1) levels of life satisfaction; (2) inequality in life satisfaction; (3) the prevalence and severity of dissatisfaction; and (4) determinants of life satisfaction. Results indicate that Indigenous life satisfaction peaked in 2003 and has since declined, and inequality in life satisfaction is greater for Indigenous than non-Indigenous Australians. Further, while the determinants of life satisfaction for non-Indigenous Australians are consistent with existing evidence and a priori expectations, the results for Indigenous Australians differ in many respects.
KeywordsDissatisfaction Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey Indigenous Australians Inequality Life satisfaction Subjective wellbeing
This paper uses unit record data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. The HILDA Project was initiated and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services (DSS) and is managed by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research (Melbourne Institute). The findings and views reported in this paper, however, are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either DSS or the Melbourne Institute. Thanks also to Professor Adrian Miller, Bronwyn Wolski and Samantha de Lore of Griffith University’s Indigenous Research Unit who hosted the authors while this research was undertaken. Thanks also to anonymous reviewers for their constructive and insightful comments. All errors and omissions remain our own.
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