Life satisfaction and financial difficulties
In 2019, we asked members of Cohort 2 who were aged around 30 years about life satisfaction. Life satisfaction is a subjective measure that is included in the Life Patterns surveys on an annual basis. We find that while young adults in Australia are generally satisfied with their lives, there are important differences in levels of satisfaction according to employment status, financial difficulties and health status. We also asked about their difficulties paying selected living expenses including: food and other necessities; rent or mortgage payments; other loan repayments; household bills; health costs; own study costs; childcare costs; children's education costs. Their responses to these questions allow us to examine the association between experiencing financial difficulties and levels of life satisfaction. Although for all participants the most important predictors of life satisfaction are mental and physical health, experiencing financial difficulties is strongly associated with having lower levels of satisfaction for those who were partnered in 2019. For participants living alone, employment status is a more important predictor than experiencing financial difficulties.
Using liner regression techniques, we examined the relationship between life satisfaction and financial difficulties across single/living and partnered households. In single/living households:
- Participants who reported being physically unhealthy for at least two of the previous five years had significantly lower levels of life satisfaction than physically healthy participants.
- Participants who reported being mentally unhealthy for at least two of the previous five years had significantly lower levels of life satisfaction than healthy participants regardless of their physical health, employment status, experiencing financial difficulties, household stability, location and gender.
In partnered households:
- Experiencing financial difficulties is negatively associated with levels of life satisfaction, net of gender, location, employment status, household stability, and long-term health conditions
- Participants living in households where one partner was employed full-time and one partner was employed part-time reported having lower levels of life satisfaction than their peers living in household where both partners were employed full-time. Those who reported being physically unhealthy in at least two of the previous five years had lower levels of life satisfaction than their healthier peers. Being mentally unhealthy in at least two of the previous five years was also associated with having lower levels of life satisfaction.
You can read more about life satisfaction and financial difficulties in our report ‘Life Satisfaction in Young Adulthood’ by Andres Molina and Jenny Chesters which can be accessed here.