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The Happiness report: how Australia rates

– Australia has been rated the world’s 10th happiest country
– While economic security matters, there’s more to happiness than being rich
– To be truly happy, you need the freedom to live the life you want
A new report shows that Australians are among the world’s happiest people. But while our strong economy has played a large part in keeping us smiling, the report also shows that money alone is not enough. Instead, true happiness means having the financial freedom to live the life you want. That’s where good planning is essential.

It’s official — Australians are among the world’s happiest people. A new report from the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network1 puts us at number 10 on the world happiness league table.

According to the World Happiness Report, we’re happier than our Kiwi neighbours, more content than the residents of the US and Ireland, and much more satisfied with our lot than the English and the French. But we still have some way to go to match the Canadians, at number 6, or Denmark — home to Lego, Queen Mary and the world’s happiest people.

There’s no doubt that our prosperity and our comparatively healthy economy plays an important in Australian’s overall levels of happiness. Our great climate, democratic freedom and relaxed lifestyle don’t hurt either. But the report also confirms something that many of us have already realised all along — that while financial security is important, money by itself can’t buy happiness.

What makes a country happy?

Of course, having enough money to feed, shelter, clothe and educate ourselves and our families is an essential first step in becoming happy. But as the report shows, there are plenty of other factors that rate high on the happiness scale too.

A strong health system leading to a healthy life expectancy is a key factor, along with adequate levels of social support. These are areas where Australia outperforms. But there are other important drivers where we compare less well, including perceived levels of generosity and corruption.

We also have higher than average levels of mental illness. According the report, 10% of the world’s population suffers from depression or anxiety disorders. In comparison, 20% of Australians aged between 16 and 85 have suffered from a mental disorder at some stage in their life2.

Happier people don’t only live longer, but they generally make better citizens. They also tend to be more productive – and they earn more money.

The report points out that happiness creates a virtuous circle. Happier people live longer and make better citizens. They also tend to be more productive and earn more money, partly because they are better able to pursue long-term goals, making them good investors. Happy people are also more generous too, donating more time and money to others in need. And all of these things help to create more happiness, keeping the
cycle going.

Happily ever after

Comparing Australians to less fortunate countries, it’s easy to see that a lack of money can cause unhappiness. But once you’ve reached a certain level of wealth, money is less important because of what it can buy, than because of the freedom it creates.

The report highlights that a major contributor to your sense of wellbeing is the amount of freedom you have to choose the way you live. That’s where good planning comes in. Because financial planning isn’t simply about becoming wealthy, it’s about planning your finances so you can afford to live the lifestyle you want – now and in the future.

That’s why it can be worth taking time to consult a financial adviser sooner rather than later. It could be the best investment you ever make.




This article has been prepared by Colonial First State Investments Limited ABN 98 002 348 352, AFS Licence 232468 (Colonial First State) based on its understanding of current regulatory requirements, laws and announcements as at 28 November 2013. The article is not advice and provides information only. It does not take into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement available from Colonial First State carefully and assess whether the information is appropriate for you and consider talking to a financial adviser before making an investment decision.

Copyright © 2013 Colonial First State Investments Limited. All rights reserved.

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