Australian Wellbeing Index
5 September 2005 at 1:09 pm
The personal wellbeing of Australians has fallen to its lowest level since November 2002, according to research into the nation’s wellbeing and it points to a lack of belonging within communities as the reason!
Survey 13 of The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index has revealed a significant decrease in Australians’ wellbeing for the first time in three years.
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, a joint project between Australian Unity and Deakin University, showed that there was a marked rise in personal wellbeing following the September 11 terrorist attack, and this rise was maintained during the period of the Bali bombing and the early stages of the Iraq war.
This latest survey was undertaken in April and May this year.
Professor Bob Cummins, from Deakin University’s Australian Centre on Quality of Life and author of The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index, says that this decrease has been largely due to people feeling less satisfied with their relationships and their sense of belonging within their communities.
Prof Cummins says wellbeing is highly influenced by our relationships and interactions with others. These things are enhanced by the perception of an external threat, which was sensed as low at the time of the survey.
However, he says the recent terrorist activities may now have reversed that trend.
The latest survey also found that people who live alone tend to have lower wellbeing than those who live with family or friends.
Prof. Cummins says this is a significant finding considering the increasing trend of Australians choosing to live alone.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of lone person households is projected to increase from 1.8 million in 2001 to between 2.8 and 3.7 million in 2026.
Prof Cummins says that without the support of a partner, people living alone are more vulnerable to negative life stresses and even minor health issues seem to be a bigger issue for these people.
Survey 13 has also revealed that women generally have higher levels of personal wellbeing than men, with men being less resilient when faced with difficult circumstances. The distinction between the genders also appears to be age dependent.
The Index found no difference at 18-25 years, but then male wellbeing suddenly becomes lower than female wellbeing at 26-35 years, and this disadvantage is maintained into older age groups.
Other key observations from Survey 13 are:
– Overall females have higher wellbeing than males, however the personal domain of safety goes against this trend, being higher in males.
– Marriage and high income are stronger influences on personal wellbeing than body weight.
– The highest levels of wellbeing are achieved by people living with their partner, children and one or more adults to assist with child care. The lowest wellbeing is found among sole parents.
– The survey also revealed significant falls in Australians’ satisfaction with standard of living and future security.
The concept for the multi-award winning Australian Unity Wellbeing Index was developed by Australian Unity, with the first survey conducted in April 2001.
Professor Bob Cummins from Deakin University and Richard Eckersley from the Australian National University developed the Index format in conjunction with a team of researchers.
The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index is an academic study that adheres to rigorous implementation and statistical standards and is one of the world’s leading measures of subjective wellbeing.
It consists of a Personal Wellbeing Index measuring satisfaction with seven aspects of peoples’ personal lives, and the National Index measuring six aspects of national life.
The Personal Wellbeing Index consists of standard of living, health, achievements in life, personal relationships, community connectedness, future security and safety.
The National Wellbeing Index includes the economy, social conditions, the environment, government, business and national security.