Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Australia: Women aren’t as upbeat as men

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008


Women’s sense of wellbeing has fallen to its lowest level in seven years as inflation erodes the family budget and creates concerns about future economic security, a new study shows.

The findings, from the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index study, show a precipitous decline in women’s sense of wellbeing, but men’s wellbeing has stabilised at record-high levels.

The latest survey, based on a sample of 2000 people, was taken in April and May. For the first time in the history of the survey, which has charted the nation’s mood on 19 occasions since 2001, the wellbeing of males was higher than females.

Click here for the full article.

I don’t mean to whine or insult my male readers, but could the fact that women generally bear the most responsibility and worries of child-rearing be contributing their lower levels of happiness?

Such worries would be compounded in single-mother households.  Add the possibly lower salary that women receive (there is still a gender gap in salaries in the US, and I’m just assuming there may be one in Australia also) to the mix, and you have the perfect equation for a lot of stress and strain and unhappiness.


Happiness is … not having children?

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The belief that children and money will bring people happiness is one of life’s abiding illusions, a Sydney conference attended by 2000 seekers of happiness was told yesterday.

The scientific evidence shows people are very bad at predicting what will make them happy, said Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and the author of the book Stumbling On Happiness. He said people’s happiness goes into steep decline after they have children, and never recovers its old level until the children leave home. As a source of pleasure, playing with one’s offspring rates just above doing housework but below talking with friends, eating, or watching TV, research has shown.

Yet people invest so much time and money in their children, and focus on the fleeting moments of joy they bring, rather than on the long periods of boredom and irritation, that most continue to believe children will bring them happiness, Professor Gilbert said.

Click here for the full article.

Politicians told to focus on wellbeing

Monday, April 28th, 2008

[...] It is time for politicians to start focusing on the politics of wellbeing rather than the politics of wealth, one of the world’s leading psychologists told an audience in Auckland last night (April 22).Professor Martin Seligman, the pioneer of positive psychology, told an audience of 150 people attending a lecture at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, sponsored by Human Resource consultancy the Foresight Institute, that creating wealth was no longer enough.

Despite countries such as New Zealand, Australia and the United States being wealthier than ever before, they were all experiencing epidemics of depression, he said. New Zealand scored particularly badly in world rankings of wellbeing, usually placed at around 22 or 23, compared with Australia, which was usually placed around 8.

“Why is there so much pessimism and depression and lack of wellbeing?” he asked. “Given the prosperity of your nation, and given what’s happened in the past century, why is there so much depression? Depression is probably 20 times more common than it was 50 years ago.

Click here for the full article.

The Economics of Happiness, Part 6: Delving Into Subjective Well-Being

Friday, April 25th, 2008

The Gallup World Poll asks an amazing battery of questions about the subjectively-experienced lives of people across the globe, and hence offers an unparalleled opportunity to contrast the subjectively-experienced lives of those in rich and poor countries.

This chart is my personal favorite, showing the proportion of people in each country who report having smiled or laughed a lot the previous day. Higher levels of economic development are clearly associated with more smiles and laughter. But equally, there are a lot of exceptions to this rule, and plenty of puzzles.

Laotians are more likely to smile than anyone else, and the Irish appear to have earned their national reputation as jolly japesters. My own country, Australia, comes in as the 29th of the 131 countries in the Smile Stakes, while the U.S. is a disappointing 45th.

Click here for the full article.

Looking for happiness? Try Sydney

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

It might come as a surprise if you’re struggling with the mortgage, the smog or the morning commute, but Sydney is apparently associated with the word “happiness”.

A global survey of urban lifestyle trends in 14 cities interviewed 8500 people, 630 who live in Sydney.

Those residents said Sydney was one of the world’s greatest cities, and a “pleasant, clean and charming” place to live.

In fact, the harbour city was ranked among the top three of the world’s “easy to live” cities, praised for low levels of population density and closeness to nature, with residents reporting they are optimistic and not very stressed.

Click here for the full article.

Genes Hold The Key To How Happy We Are, Scientists Say

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Happiness in life is as much down to having the right genetic mix as it is to personal circumstances according to a recent study.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh working with researchers at Queensland Institute for Medical Research in Australia found that happiness is partly determined by personality traits and that both personality and happiness are largely hereditary.

Using a framework which psychologists use to rate personalities, called the Five-Factor Model, the researchers found that people who do not excessively worry, and who are sociable and conscientious tend to be happier.

They suggested that this personality mix can act as a buffer when bad things happen, according to the study published in the March issue of Psychological Science.

Click here for the full article.

Happy is enough

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Luckily the annual Australian Unity wellbeing index – the statistical smile tracker – was released this week, which helped shed some light on this consumerist conundrum.

The what-makes-us-happy report discovered that happiness starts to stall as household income passes $100,000.

According to the authors, once you crack six figures “money loses its ability to reliably raise wellbeing and does not increase in line with increasing income”.

Which makes perfect sense. It’s a fancy way of describing what I call the economics of enough.

Click here for the full article.