The Australian quality of life is often talked about and is a significant factor in attracting many immigrants from around the world. However, can there ever be an objective measure of quality of life?
We can see articles written every day about the fantastic lifestyle offered in a new property development or advertisements that try to persuade you that you too can be beautiful, sporty and rich merely by wearing an expensive watch!
If you're a sun-worshipping, partying, golf-mad twenty-something is your ideal lifestyle likely to be the same as a fifty-something who loves classical music, medieval architecture and fine food and wine?
There are also questions about differences in local levels of development, how do you assess individual expectations and how do you value certain factors when constructing a measure of comparison. Is it valid to compare London or New York to a poor, chaotic, potentially dangerous city in a country where cultural norms and values differ markedly from those in the west?
Australia has an enviable, global reputation when it comes to the quality of life, regularly ranking near the top amongst the most attractive places to live in the world. In such a vast country (the only one to be a continent as well) with stunning, global cities, truly remote hamlets, tropical forests and vast deserts, the sheer diversity means there is pretty much something for everyone.
The Emigration Store has gathered together some key surveys to help you get a better insight into what Australia has to offer.
OECD: Better Life Index
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) produce a 'Better Life' Index based on a wide range of factors, not just economic success.
- Average household net disposable income of over A$31k beats the OECD average of nearly A$24k
- 72% of working age people have a paid job vs. 65% average
- Life expectancy is almost 82yrs, better than the 80yr average
- 93% say they are happy with the quality of the water against an 84% average
- 93% say they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, vs. a 89% average
- Voter turnout in elections is 93% against a 72% average
- 90% say they are happy with their current housing situation vs. 87%
- 65% say they helped a stranger in the last month, vs. 49%
- Obesity rates amongst adults is 28.3%, higher than the 17.2% average
- When asked to score, out of 10, their general satisfaction with their life, Australians scored 7.4, vs. an average of 6.6
- On average people work 1,728hrs a year, less than the average of 1,765hrs
- The female employment rate is 66.6%, above the 57% average
- Perhaps contrary to stereotype, Australian men spend 172 mins per day cooking, cleaning or caring, one of the highest scores across the OECD.
Australia performs extremely well in many of the measures of well-being. Its overall score is reflective of its wealth, social cohesion, good healthcare and education and good job prospects.
The Economist Intelligence Unit - Global Liveability Ranking and Report August 2014
This survey looks at 140 cities around the world and assesses their liveability based on over 30 qualitative and quantitative factors. These are split into five main categories:
- Culture & Environment
Each factor is rated from acceptable to intolerable. The score scale ranges from 1 – 100 where 1 is intolerable and 100 is ideal.
The EIU's Liveability Ranking & Overview August 2014
Australia has 4 cities in the top 10, a testament to the quality of life on offer across Australia's main cities.
HSBC Expat Explorer Survey
This extensive survey is derived from the opinions of expats themselves (over 7,000 were polled) and covers a wide range of factors including economics, lifestyle, home and work life, social life, child care and education.
The results would probably be regarded as quite surprising. Overall, the country which comes top is China.
Delving deeper into the scores for each category throws up some interesting views about how expats view their life in Australia. It came 5th out of 37countries overall with the weather, food and culture making it easy to adapt. A large majority (84%) were keen so keen on the overall improvement in their lifestyle that they were intending to stay in Australia. This compared to an average globally of 62%.
Monocle: Global Quality of Life Survey 2013
The magazine, aimed at a global audience with an eclectic business, news and lifestyle mix, creates an annual Index based on a variety of metrics including business conditions, global connectivity, architecture, public transport and tolerance amongst others.
As ever, the metrics were a mix of the scientific and subjective and considered everything from public safety, flight connections, tolerance, cultural outlets and some 30 other parameters.
Some quotes about Sydney
Mercer: Quality of Living Survey 2014
Mercer is a very large American consulting firm, specialising in the fields of Human Resources, Healthcare, Retirement Solutions and Investments.
They produce a report designed to help companies planning on sending staff abroad to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of over 220 city destinations around the world.
The cities are evaluated on a series of weighted factors, 39 in all within 10 categories including economic, political, health, safety, education, transport and environmental, which gives each city a score relative to New York (which has a score of 100), where Mercer's have their headquarters.
United Nations: World Happiness Report 2013
In 2011 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution whereby it invited its member countries to measure the happiness of their people with the objective of using the results to help form and guide public policies.
In today's modern world, there are very stark contrasts between those who live in the developed world, with access to technology and luxuries unimaginable even just a couple of decades ago, and the many hundreds of millions who live in a level of poverty virtually unchanged for centuries.
However, does it necessarily follow that the so-called rich are inherently more 'happy' than those who live in terrible poverty?
The purpose of the study was to better understand how people feel about both their absolute circumstances and their relative ones compared to their peers and society. It was also designed to distinguish between happiness as an emotion and happiness as a measure of satisfaction with life but both were surveyed as both contribute to the overall sense of happiness.
Source: Excerpt from Fig 2.3: Ranking of Happiness: 2010-12 & Fig 2.6: Comparing Happiness: 2005-07 and 2010-12; World Happiness Report 2013
The table above offers some potentially interesting insights. Why should Australia and New Zealand, both ranked closely in the overall index at 10 and 13 respectively, have had a different view on how their level of happiness has changed? Equally, the rapid pace of economic progress has seen China has improve its level of happiness but its overall rank shows it has a long way to go.