Happiness in Australia

Happiness in Australia

Peers drive happiness

Adele Horin

October 21, 2008

THE super salaries of the greediest bosses are making the rest of us feel glum.

“There are a lot of Australians aged 45 to 60 looking at what the top earners are getting and feeling deprived,” said Satya Paul, professor of economics at the University of Western Sydney, who co-authored a study on happiness with Daniel Guilbert.

The study, which tracked 8530 people between 2001 and 2005, found that rich people are not happier than poor people. People in the bottom fifth of income earners in 2005 rated themselves on average at 7.99 on a happiness scale from 0-10, about the same as for those in the top income bracket.

Regardless of income, it was how people were faring relative to their peers in age, education and gender that influenced their sense of well-being.

People’s happiness declined when their peers forged ahead of them in salaries.

Professor Paul said having good health, being married, having a job and doing voluntary or charity work were all associated with greater happiness, as was being female.

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