Quality of life varies for Aussies
The finding which throws the 'life begins at 40' cliche into serious doubt is among a number of revelations gained from the study.
UTS Centre for the Study of Choice researcher Dr Terry Flynn, who has conducted similar studies in the UK, says middle aged people in Australia scored around 3.5% lower than that of people in younger and older age groups.
He says that the effects of a number of other factors also appear to be specific to some subgroups of Australians, even after adjusting for all other differences, most notably:
- Respondents without children do better living in Sydney than in Melbourne (having 2% better quality of life in the former). However, having children reverses this: residents of Melbourne with children have slightly higher quality of life than their Sydney counterparts.
- Divorce hits Australian men hard – reducing their quality of life by 7%. However, the boost to independence that female divorcees gain completely offsets the fall in quality of life attributable to relationship break-down.
- The effects of political disenfranchisement are clear. Feeling unable to influence decisions that affect one’s local area tends to hit men a lot harder than it hits women: cutting quality of life by 6% and 3% respectively. However, things are different in Sydney: disenfranchised men there are no worse off than their female counterparts. Perhaps disenfranchised men here have lowered their expectations about what decision-makers in Sydney will actually do for people.
- Erosion of trust in people is associated with lower quality of life – around 5%. However, the effects of this are more marked among those Sydney residents who feel they cannot trust many people locally: their quality of life is typically around 11% lower than people who feel they can trust others.
Dr Flynn says the study has shown that quality of life scores are heavily influenced by factors such as poor health, both physical and psychological.