Life Satisfaction in Australia: Evidence from Ten Years of the HILDA Survey
- 1.1k Downloads
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.
KeywordsDissatisfaction 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.
- Ambrey, C., & Fleming, C. (in press). Valuing ecosystem diversity in South East Queensland: A life satisfaction approach. Social Indicators Research, doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0208-4.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011a). Glossary of statistical geography terminology, 2011, Catalogue No. 1217.0.55.001. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/1217.0.55.001. Accessed 12 April 2012.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011b). Household income and income distribution, Catalogue No. 6523.0. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6523.0. Accessed 1 March 2012.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2011c). Measures of Australia’s progress: Summary indicators 2011, Catalogue No. 1370.0.55.001. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/mf/1370.0.55.001. Accessed 17 July 2012.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2012). 2011 Census of population and housing: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (indigenous) profile, Catalogue No. 2002.0. http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/communityprofile/0. Accessed 9 August 2012.
- Dworkin, R. (1981). What is equality? Part 2: Equality of resources. Philosophy & Public Affairs, 10(4), 283–345.Google Scholar
- Easterlin, R. (1974). Does economic growth improve the human lot? Some empirical evidence. In P. David & M. Redler (Eds.), Nations and households in economic growth: Essays in honor of Moses Abramovitz (pp. 89–125). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Gandelman, N., & Porzecanski, R. (in press). Happiness inequality: How much is reasonable? Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-011-9929-z.
- Geishecker, I., & Riedl, M. (2010). Ordered response models and non-random personalty traits: Monte Carlo simulations and a practical guide. Germany: Centre for European Governance and Economic Development Research.Google Scholar
- Hamilton, C., Downie, C., & Lu, Y.-H. (2008). The state of the Australian middle class. Australasian Accounting Business and Finance Journal, 2(3), 1–25.Google Scholar
- Headey, B., Muffels, R., & Wagner, G. (in press). Choices which change life satisfaction: Similar results for Australia, Britain and Germany. Social Indicators Research. doi: 10.1007/s11205-012-0079-8.
- Hill, R. C., Griffiths, W., & Lim, G. (2008). Principles of Econometrics (3rd ed.). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
- Leigh, A. (2010). Disconnected. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Senik, C. (2009). Income distribution and subjective happiness: A survey. OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers No. 96. Paris.Google Scholar
- Skinner, N., Hutchinson, C., & Pocock, B. (2012). The big squeeze: Work, home and care in 2012. Adelaide: Centre for Work+Life.Google Scholar
- Sortino, F. (2010). The sortino framework for constructing portfolios: Focusing on desired target return to optimize upside potential relative to downside risk. Boston: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2009). The paradox of declining female happiness. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 1(2), 190–225.Google Scholar
- Stiglitz, J., Sen, A., & Fitoussi, J.-P. (2009). Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress. Paris.Google Scholar
- United Nations Development Programme. (2010). Human development report 2010: The Real Wealth of Nations (Pathways to Human Development). New York.Google Scholar
- Watson, N., & Wooden, M. (2002). The household, income and labour dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey: Wave 1 survey methodology. HILDA Project Technical Paper Series No. 1/02. Melbourne: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.Google Scholar
- Watson, N., & Wooden, M. (2004a). Assessing the quality of the HILDA survey wave 2 data. HILDA Project Technical Paper Series No. 5/04. Melbourne: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research.Google Scholar
- Watson, N., & Wooden, M. (2004b). Sample attrition in the HILDA survey. Australian Journal of Labour Economics, 7(2), 293–308.Google Scholar
- Watson, N., & Wooden, M. (2012). The HILDA survey: A case study in the design and development of a successful household panel study. Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, 3(3), 369–381.Google Scholar
- Welsch, H. (2007). Macroeconomics and life satisfaction: Revisiting the “Misery Index”. Journal of Applied Economics, 10(2), 237–251.Google Scholar
- World Bank (2012). Worldwide Governance Indicators. http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.asp. Accessed 19 December 2012.