Social Indicators Research

, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 691–714 | Cite as

Life Satisfaction in Australia: Evidence from Ten Years of the HILDA Survey

  • Christopher L. Ambrey
  • Christopher M. FlemingEmail author


Employing data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey, this paper examines the level, determinants and distribution of self-reported life satisfaction, as well as the prevalence and severity of dissatisfaction in Australia over the period 2001–2010. Against most objective measures Australia’s economic performance during this period was exemplary. Yet our results indicate a steady decline in life satisfaction from 2003 onwards, as well as a diminishing gap between the life satisfaction of males and females. Results also suggest that inequality in life satisfaction has generally declined. Geographic heterogeneity in the distribution of life satisfaction is apparent, and a number of socio-economic and demographic factors are found to serve an important role in determining an individual’s level of life satisfaction. Measures of the extent of dissatisfaction reveal an encouraging downward trend and provide policy makers with an alternative perspective from which to assess societal welfare.


Dissatisfaction Happiness Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Inequality Life satisfaction 



We thank Griffith University for the Griffith University Postgraduate Research Scholarship and the Griffith Business School for the Griffith Business School Top-up Scholarship; funding that was instrumental in facilitating this research. This research would not have been possible without data provided by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). Revisions to this paper were made while Christopher Fleming was a visiting researcher at the University of Stirling; we thank staff for their support. We also thank an anonymous reviewer for feedback on an earlier draft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher L. Ambrey
    • 1
  • Christopher M. Fleming
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Gold Coast CampusGriffith Business SchoolGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics, Nathan CampusGriffith Business SchoolNathanAustralia

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