Expanding notions of economic living standards and its relationship to subjective well-being: an Australian case study

Stream: Measuring wellbeing and data gaps
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 1.35 pm – 3.15 pm


While Australian studies have begun exploring the relationship between disposable income and global life satisfaction or happiness assessments, there is a lack of empirical investigation exploring the relationship between broader notions of economic well-being and subjective wellbeing.

This paper addresses this gap by comparing two alternative individual based well-being frameworks. The first develops a more comprehensive measure of economic resources in line with the economic theory of consumption. A set of economic resource metrics is developed that append disposable income with income streams form non-cash services (including in-kind social transfers) and annuitised non-home wealth and home wealth, as providing the full range of potential consumption possibilities that affect an individual’s economic well-being. The second develops a domain-specific life-satisfaction well-being indicator framework based on psychological references to individual subjective well-being.

The results are based on person-level data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey. Empirical analysis involves comparing individual economic well-being to subjective well-being for older Australians (aged 65 years and over) and non-older Australians (aged 15 to 64 years), and also across the two age groups. The four-way comparative analysis provides insight into the nature of economic advantage and disadvantage within and across age cohorts, and particularly the role of wealth (particularly home wealth) and the provision of public benefits, to an individual's cognitive evaluation of their life.


Yuvisthi Naidoo (Presenter), Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney
Dr Yuvisthi NAIDOO is a Research Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW. She is a social policy researcher and quantitative analyst whose focus is on social disadvantage and social indicators specialising in poverty and inequality, deprivation and social exclusion, well-being, and ageing societies. Yuvisthi has experience working on Australian Research Council funded projects on poverty, deprivation and social exclusion in Australia. Yuvisthi previously worked for the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and in the corporate sector with strategic research consultants, Stancombe Research and Planning, and consumer goods conglomerate, Unilever. She completed her PhD in 2017.