Australians are happier despite softer economic climate

Stephen TaylorJuly 1, 20130 min read

Despite a volatile political climate, softer economic conditions and concerns about our ability to fund our retirements, we are happier, according to the National Australia Bank’s latest Australian Consumer Anxiety Index.

The index rose from 6.2 in quarter 1 to 6.6 in the June quarter when all survey questions:  satisfied life, worthwhile life, happy yesterday and not anxious yesterday - rated higher.  

And, it appears, those happiest:  

  • Live in Western Australia  
  • Live in rural towns or the bush  
  • Earn over $100,000  
  • Are over 50  
  • Are married  
  • Have children  
  • Live in a household with two people  
  • Are well-educated  
  • Are retired  
  • Are in professional employment. 

The results show much lower anxiety in WA (partly offset by lower wellbeing in all other categories) and that rural areas have replaced capital cities for highest wellbeing.  

Wellbeing has declined in the $75,000-100,000 income group. There are much lower anxiety levels among women, and there is a general decline in wellbeing scores for widowed people.  

Wellbeing is now higher in households with kids compared to those without, and there’s been a big rise in wellbeing in single households but much lower overall wellbeing reported by labourers. 

A deeper look at the data also indicates a big fall in those expressing “very low” wellbeing, and an increase in those rating their wellbeing “high”. 

Sadly, over 26% of respondents identified themselves as being highly anxious, although this was down from more than 30% in the first quarter. 

The NAB’s Quarterly Consumer Anxiety Index found that consumer anxiety fell in June in line with moderating concerns about future spending/savings plans. 

The index measured 6.0 points in Q2, down from 6.3 points in Q1. There is still large variance in anxiety levels around the five survey questions underpinning the index: job security, health, ability to fund retirement, cost of living and government policy. 

But consumers still rate cost of living as their main cause of anxiety (ahead of government policy) but less so than in Q1. Job security is still of quite low concern despite softer forward labour market indicators. 

Anxiety was typically highest among consumers living in Queensland or Victoria, residing in rural towns or the bush, earning less than $35,000, are female, are aged 30-49, are divorced, have no children, live in a household of two people, are not employed or retired, and work as labourers. 

Since the March survey, the latest results show Victoria and WA are the only states reporting higher concerns over job security, regional areas are less anxious about living costs and retirement, anxiety has risen for those earning less than $35,000, women are less worried about job security and retirement, and more people aged 30-49 are worried about living costs and retirement.  

Overall, anxiety has risen for widowed people, those with kids are worrying less about living costs/retirement, health has become a bigger issue in three-plus person households, and retired people are the most anxious about government policy. ‘Other’ workers reported a big fall in their anxiety. 

Significantly, more than one-third still rate anxiety ‘high’ for government policy and cost of living. 

And, while almost one-quarter of consumers remain very worried about their ability to fund their retirement, concerns have eased.  

Stephen Taylor

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Find out more in our privacy policy.
Accept Cookies