Australia is the happiest nation according to a survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.The analysis is based on is on people’s income, jobs, housing and health.
“Australia performs exceptionally well in measures of well-being, as shown by the fact that it ranks among the top countries in a large number of topics in the Better Life Index,” the OECD said.
Australia’s high rank in the OECD index—based on data from the United Nations, individual governments and other sources—is largely due to its economy. The nation mostly sidestepped the economic woes afflicting much of the developed world after the financial crisis and has expanded for 21 years straight without a recession. Unemployment stood at 5.5 per cent in April from 5.6 per cent in March, compared with 12.1 per cent in the euro zone.
“There is no one under the age of 40 now who has experienced a recession as an adult member of the workforce,” said Saul Eslake, an economist at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in Sydney.
Australians also share a stronger sense of community than the OECD average. According to the the report, 94 per cent of people “believe they know someone they could rely on in a time a need, higher than the OECD average of 90 per cent.
Australians are also more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 84 per cent of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc). This figure is higher than the OECD average of 80 per cent.
While the OECD survey found that Australians rank their life-satisfaction at 7.2 out of 10, higher than the average of 6.6, the reading is below levels recorded in Mexico, Norway and neighbouring New Zealand.
Australia also ranks poorly in terms of work-life balance with more than 14 per cent of employees working very long hours, well above the OECD average of 9 per cent. And, somewhat surprisingly for a country famed for its beaches and barbecues, Aussies spend slightly less time on leisure activities and personal care—eating and sleeping—than their overseas peers.
The average household net wealth is estimated at $US32,178 ($33,402), well below the OECD average of $US40,516. The study finds a significant disparity in living standards, with the top 20 per cent of Australia’s population living off an estimated $US58,409 per year compared with $US10,323 for the bottom 20 per cent.