National anxiety levels rise in September quarter: Australians still most concerned about maintaining lifestyle

15 October 2013

NAB's Australian Wellbeing Index shows overall national wellbeing deteriorated in the past three months, rated 6.4 out of 10, down from 6.6 points in Q2. In the same period, consumer anxiety rose slightly, hitting 6.1 points in Q3.

Alan Oster, NAB Chief Economist says while Australians are concerned about their ability to fund retirement and the cost of living, they continue to measure their quality of life and anxiety-levels in broader terms

"Australians are reporting that their overall life satisfaction and happiness levels are unchanged, with 57.3% rating their happiness as high or very high – but they are worried about maintaining their lifestyle in financial terms," he said.

Australian consumers are reporting:

  • the cost of living is their main cause of anxiety, with more than one-third (35.5%) rating their anxiety "high" with regards to cost of living, up slightly from 34.1% in Q2
  • they have become more anxious about their ability to fund their retirement, with around 27% of Australians expressing "high" concern over their ability to fund their retirement in Q3, up from 22.6% in Q2
  • a slight increase in concerns over job security, with 35.5% rating it as a medium or high concern

The biggest drop in wellbeing was among:

  • Those living in Western Australia where wellbeing fell to 6.2 in Q3 from 6.7 in Q2
  • Males aged 18-29 whose wellbeing measure fell to 5.9 in Q3 from 6.6 in Q2

"The fading of the mining investment boom in WA appears to be front of mind for more Western Australians, who reported higher levels of anxiety. They now also have the lowest overall wellbeing nationally.

"Men aged 18-29 reported much lower levels of overall wellbeing which may be driven by concerns about job security," he said.

The number of Australians reporting "high" anxiety over government policy fell to 30.9% in Q3 from 36% in Q2.

"We saw a sharp fall in people's concerns about government in the lead up to the election, driven by the expectation of political change and certainty around policy – in line with improvements in business confidence," he said.

Australians who report the highest levels of wellbeing and the lowest levels of consumer anxiety are those:

  • living in rural towns or the bush
  • without children
  • living in a two-person household
  • who were retired

The NAB Quarterly Australian Wellbeing Index seeks to measure overall quality of life and the NAB Quarterly Consumer Anxiety Index tracks consumer anxiety about spending and savings.

Media Release

For more information:

Chris Venus

M: +61 (0) 477 306 694


About the NAB Australian Wellbeing Index and NAB Australian Consumer Anxiety Index

Economists and others are increasingly looking towards additional measures beyond GDP to measure wellbeing. Economists are not only analysing hard data on wellbeing and sustainability but also subjective measures of wellbeing. Growing interest in wellbeing across the globe is also having an increasing impact on economic policy. We also wanted to gain a deeper understanding but consumer anxiety, specifically in regards to concerns about future spending and savings plans.