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Financial Wellbeing

Are Australians currently happy and what are the factors which dictate happiness?

01 Mar 2024

Life Insurance by Life Stage

The choices you make today can impact your long-term health, wealth and happiness. Understand the important role Life Insurance can play in key life events.

NobleOak recently conducted a survey* with over 1,000 Australians to discover their current viewpoints on many factors relating to life insurance and finance more generally. They were also asked about their current levels of happiness.

This was the eighth year of conducting the survey and while the pandemic had a negative impact on many aspects of life, bringing financial stress for many, and of course physical health concerns surrounding the virus itself, the good news is happiness is now back to pre-COVID levels (an average 7/10) and is highly linked to how healthy people feel. There is also a clear link between people’s happiness, feeling in control of their financial situation and the ability to cover an unexpected expense.

Consistently since 2018, people tend to be more optimistic if they hold life insurance as opposed to if they don’t (29% for those with life insurance compared to 24% for those not holding life insurance in 2023). This implies that individuals with life insurance may feel more secure and better equipped to navigate unforeseen financial challenges or life events, thereby influencing their overall optimism about the future.

The main reasons for a higher happiness rating include having a strong family or friendship network, generally having a positive attitude to life, or feeling they were doing well financially. Whilst the top response for both male and female respondents was ‘Family/people around me’ interestingly male happiness is equally dictated by their ‘financial situation’ (23%) and ‘positive attitude/life is good (23%), whereas only 15% of female respondents said their financial situation was the reason for their happiness.

In keeping with the general external environment which Australians are facing currently, the economy/ cost of living is overwhelmingly the number one reason why Australians might be feeling unhappy or pessimistic (46% of the ‘pessimistic’ sample). Australians feel like they are peddling hard but getting nowhere, stating in many of the verbatim comments that their wages aren’t rising at the same rate as the cost of living.

Whilst male respondents are more likely to be unhappy/pessimistic due to factors relating to their external environment (the economy, cost of living, global events) female respondents were more likely to choose responses related to their family, work situation, health and stress than their male counterparts.

Single people are generally less likely to be happy than those in the other categories (couples and families), which is not surprising as the main reason cited for being happy was ‘family/people around me’. Singles also reported their main reason for unhappiness and pessimism comes from the state of the economy, with one respondent stating “financial strain, mortgage rate increases and cost of living” were all to blame for their low rating.

Understandably, happiness is also directly correlated to how healthy people see themselves as being. Those ranking themselves as healthy (4 or 5 out of 5) have a happiness level of 7.4 compared to those with an unhealthy ranking of 1-2 with a happiness level of 6.2. Low perceived levels of financial and physical health seem detrimental to individuals’ happiness, with those who rate both as positive being the happiest.

*Research conducted on behalf of NobleOak by The Market Intelligence Co, December 2023 with over 1,000 Australian citizens or residents.

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