Social Indicators Research

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 159–190 | Cite as

Developing a National Index of Subjective Wellbeing: The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index

  • Robert A. CumminsEmail author
  • Richard Eckersley
  • Julie Pallant
  • Jackie van Vugt
  • RoseAnne Misajon


The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index has beendesigned as a new barometer of Australians'satisfaction with their lives, and life inAustralia. It is based on, and develops, thetheoretical model of subjective wellbeinghomeostasis. The Index comprises two sub-scalesof Personal and National Wellbeing. Data werecollected through a nationally representativesample of 2,000 people in April/May 2001.Factor analysis confirmed the integrity of thetwo sub-scales and, confirming empiricalexpectation, the average level of lifesatisfaction was 75.5 percent of the scalemaximum score. Group comparisons revealed thatall age groups maintained their Personal Indexscore within the normal range. In addition,people in country areas were more satisfiedwith their personal lives than city-dwellers,but less satisfied about the nationalsituation, and people who had recentlyexperienced a strong positive event evidenced arise in wellbeing, whereas those who hadexperienced a strong negative event evidencedwellbeing in the low-normal range. It is arguedthat these data generally support homeostatictheory. However, an unusual result was thatfemales were more satisfied with their ownlives than males. A tentative argument isadvanced that this may represent aconstitutional difference. It is concluded thatthe Australian Unity Wellbeing Index haspotential as a valid, reliable and sensitiveinstrument to monitor national wellbeing.

national index population satisfaction social indicators subjective wellbeing 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Cummins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard Eckersley
    • 2
  • Julie Pallant
    • 3
  • Jackie van Vugt
    • 4
  • RoseAnne Misajon
    • 5
  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia Author for correspondence
  2. 2.National Centre for Epidemiology and Population HealthAustralian National UniversityAustralia
  3. 3.School of Mathematical SciencesSwinburne UniversityAustralia
  4. 4.Australian Unity LimitedAustralia
  5. 5.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityAustralia

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