Australia is the happiest industrialised nation.
But are you happy?
Australia has once again retained the title of happiest industrialised nation
in the world, according to the OECD
. Its citizens report high levels of contentment in areas such as housing, education, jobs, community and health. Does it match your feelings?
,Tuesday 28 May 2013 01.48 BST
Australia the world's happiest nation: OECDFrom Businessday May 28, 2013
Well this is neat – we've gone from being bigger worriers and whingers than the Poms
to the happiest kingdom of them all
in less than two months. Someone slip something into the water supply?
This is a country so relatively good that people don't even realise it.
The contrasting results of OECD and NAB surveys and what Australian consumers feed into the Westpac/Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index might say more about the quality of such surveys than they do about national mood swings.
It's no surprise that Australia again tops the OECD happiness survey on objective counts – health, education, economic opportunity and such. It's in the subjective area of happiness and confidence that we drag the chain.
The latest attempt at telling us how good we have it surprises a little with the observation that 84 per cent of Australians say “they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc)”, beating the OECD average of 80 per cent.
But then consider how small that margin is and how miserable life is right now in most of the OECD and, yes, we don't really appreciate our good fortune.
And that comes back to the old problem of Australians having had it so good for so long that they've lost perspective about the ways of the world in an uncaring universe.
For those at the front line of industries undergoing painful restructuring, the cry “it's never been this tough” is common and indicates either the youth of the person making the statement or their inability to remember very far back.
As we head well into our third decade without a recession, the vast majority of us have forgotten or never knew what one is like.
A quick example of our national short-term memory loss is a game I continue to enjoy playing at conferences, asking the room what the headline standard home loan rate was when Wayne Swan stood up to deliver his first budget in 2008. I've tried it with bankers and accountants and yet it's extremely rare for anyone to be close to getting it right: 9.45 per cent – and it went up the next month to 9.6 per cent.
If we can't get an accurate fix on what the mortgage pain was just five years ago, we're unlikely to be any good at measuring many other factors which affect our lives. And that's made worse by the nature of news. ANZ and Crown between them trim their very large workforces by 120 people
and it makes national news - the sky indeed is falling. But you never hear reports of the more jobs that are created than lost each month.
So we'll keep feeling sorry for ourselves, hankering for an imaginary past of unsustainable boom prior to 2008, and claim to be miserable consumers, when all the while we really wouldn't want to be anywhere else on earth.
This is a country so relatively good that people don't even realise it.Michael Pascoe is a BusinessDay contributing editor who happily describes himself as an optimistic sceptic.