Australians more anxious, but retirees and full-time workers more content

One-third of Australians are “highly” anxious despite an overall improvement in national wellbeing, according to the NAB Wellbeing Index released yesterday.

The Wellbeing Index rose to 64.6 points in the first quarter of 2014, up from 63.5 in the last quarter of 2013.

Some of the largest improvements in overall wellbeing were among men aged 19-29, women aged 30-49, de facto couples and single-person households.

Those whose overall wellbeing rated lower included part-time employees, those who did not finish high school and people living in rural areas.

Alan Oster, NAB group chief economist, says while people’s overall wellbeing has improved there is an increase in levels of heightened anxiety in Australia.

“Those who have the highest wellbeing tend to be the highest paid,” he told SmartCompany. “It’s probably got to do with deterioration in people’s financial situation and, I suspect, unemployment.”

Those who were retired rated their wellbeing far higher than any other employment category. Full-time workers came in second, followed by part-time workers. People who are unemployed rated their overall wellbeing far lower than any other category.

Oster says while money isn’t the key to a happy life, the study suggests it is definitely a factor in how people rate their overall wellbeing.

“Money doesn’t buy happiness but if you don’t have any it’s a problem,” he said. “I think this has a lot to do with perceptions as to how your life is going. Having enough money is important and secondly good personal relationships. These are the key drivers.”

According to the report, the most important positive influences on a person’s wellbeing include their personal relationships and place of residence. Financial security, physical health and standard of living contributed most to a negative view of a respondent’s overall wellbeing.

Tasmania topped the list as the happiest state, while Queensland came in last. In addition, those in capital and regional cities rated their overall wellbeing higher than those in rural areas, which Oster says could perhaps be attributed to drought.

If you or someone you know is affected by a mental illness you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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