Sunday, November 23, 2014

What makes people grumpy about life in Australia?

Most people who live in Australia seem to be highly satisfied with life in this country. Data from the 2013 AQOL Australian Unity wellbeing survey suggests that 75 percent of people give life in Australia a grade of 8/10 or above. Less than 4 percent of people give life in Australia a grade of less than 5/10.

Most of the people who give Australia a rating of less than 8/10 are not particularly grumpy, but there are some questions worth trying to answer about what makes them less satisfied than the rest. Are they particularly grumpy about some aspects of life in Australia, or are they less than satisfied with several different aspects? Are they grumpy because they enjoy grumping, or are they unhappy people? If they are unhappy, is this related to their personal circumstances?

In this post I use the survey data to compare the characteristics of the lower quartile – the 25 percent who gave life in Australia a grade of 7/10 or less - with the remaining 75 percent of the population.

I was pleased to discover that the lower quartile is not comprised disproportionately of grumpy old men. On average, the  age and sex of those who gave a relatively low rating to life in Australia was much the same as for the remainder of the population.

 Figure 1 suggests that those who are grumpy with life in Australia are somewhat more inclined to give any aspect of life in this country a failing grade (less than 5/10) than are the remainder of the population. They were most grumpy about government, but they shared that attitude with many people who were satisfied with life in Australia. (The survey was conducted in August 2013, not long before a Federal election which resulted in a change of government.) In proportionate terms, people in the bottom quartile were most grumpy about social conditions, the economy and national security.

As might be expected, Figure 2 suggests those in the lower quartile are more likely than the remainder to be grumpy with more than one aspect of life in Australia. Nevertheless, multiple grumpiness is not particularly common, even among people in the lower quartile. Only a tiny percentage of the population are grumpy about all aspects of life in this country.

Figure 3 suggests that people who are relatively dissatisfied with life in Australia tend to have lower satisfaction with their own lives. There do not seem to be many people who get a lot of personal satisfaction from being grumpy about life in Australia.

The people who are relatively dissatisfied with life in Australia cannot generally be characterized as being grumpy because they are particularly dissatisfied with personal relationships or health. Figure 4 suggests that they are more likely to be particularly dissatisfied with their future security and standard of living. They are also more likely to feel unsatisfied with the community in which they live. (The relevant question is: “How satisfied are you with feeling part of your community?”)

The general picture that emerges is that the people who are less satisfied with life in Australia tend to be particularly grumpy about the way social and economic conditions are impacting on their personal lives. Perhaps many of them are disappointed because their expectations of economic security and community support are not being met.

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