Most Australians satisfied with their lives, but not everyone


On average, Australians rate their overall life satisfaction as 7.6 out of 10, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Bringing together information about social issues and exploring how people interact with their family, friends and the wider community, the 2014 General Social Survey provides information on subjects such as: health, disability and caring; wellbeing; work and family life; community involvement and volunteering; crime and safety; and access to services.

"Overall life satisfaction is not the same across different groups of people," said Dr Paul Jelfs from the ABS. "For example, average life satisfaction is relatively high for couples who have children living with them (7.7) but low for people with a self-reported mental health condition (6.6), the unemployed (6.8) and one parent families (7.0)."

For the first time, the General Social Survey collected information about people's self-reported mental health condition, and their sexual orientation.

“Data showed that people who self-reported a mental health condition were three times more likely to have problems accessing healthcare, and five times more likely to assess their health as poor (13 per cent compared with 2.6 per cent). They were also less likely to be employed and more likely to have suffered discrimination and crime.” said Dr Jelfs.

In 2014, over half a million people or three per cent of the adult population identified as non-heterosexual – this includes 268,000 people who identified as gay or lesbian and 255,000 people who identified as bisexual or other sexual orientation.

"Results showed some different outcomes for people who identified themselves as gay or lesbian and for those who said they were bisexual or 'other'." said Dr Jelfs.

“For example, gays and lesbians are more than twice as likely to be involved in civic or political groups compared with heterosexuals (31 per cent and 14 per cent respectively). But they were also much more likely to have experienced homelessness (34 per cent compared with 13 per cent).”

General results showed a decline in the proportion of people involved in social, civic and political groups. Participation in sport and recreational activities also decreased from 74 per cent in 2010 to 70 per cent in 2014.

Some of the other findings from the survey include:

  • Wellbeing - compared with couple families with kids, people in one parent families had lower levels of general trust, were more likely to have experienced at least one personal stressor in the last year, and were more likely to have experienced homelessness.
  • Work - nearly half of those who were unemployed lived in households that reported at least one cash flow problem in the last year, such as being unable to pay bills on time.
  • Community - Most Australians feel supported by others, with 95 per cent of people feeling that they are able to get support from outside their household in a time of crisis.
  • Caring - Many Australians are providing care and support to others. The proportion of people caring for someone with a disability, illness or old age (19 per cent) was similar to that in 2010 and 2006.
  • Family life - The use of technology for contacting family and friends is still high, with 92 per cent of people using phone, text or video to stay in touch. There has been a decline in the amount of face to face contact since 2010, down from 79 per cent to 76 per cent.

Further information can be found in General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 4159.0), available for free download from the ABS website (

Media note

  • When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.
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