Australia’s collective well being grew more than twice the rate of the economy last year.
The Fairfax-Laternal Economics well-being index which provides a broader measure of national welfare than economic figures-rose 5.8% in 2016. That compares with the annual GDP growth of 2.4%.
The well being index adjusts GDP to take into account changes in know how, health, work life, social inequality and environmental degradation to put a dollar figure on Australia’s collective well being.
In 2016, it showed that the value of national well being increased by $22.15 billion.
While there are suggestions that life improved overall in 2016, the index’s main indicators also highlight “Several major drags” on our well being.
National Income: A recent surge in the prices that Australia receives for its exports underpinned a strong rise in national income. Growth in wages received by workers has been weak. This suggests that most of the rise in national income has been accrued to “profits, not wages.”
Know how: This knowhow boom has been driven by a surge in adults with a higher qualification. But, the index also shows a deterioration in the performance of our school students has slashed billions from national well-being
Health: The two health related drags that the index has highlighted are obesity and mental well being. The well being cost of obesity rose 2.1% in 2016 to $125 billion, while the cost of mental illness was higher at $207 billion-equivalent to 12% of the economy’s annual output. These costs were countered by better life-expectancy and an improvememt in the rate of preventable hospitalisations
Inequality: The wealthiest 29% of households take home nearly 41% of all income while the poorest 20% take home 7.5%
Environment: Well being costs of natural capital depletion was $3.8 billion in 2016. The index takes into account, how depletion of natural assets affects well being, including the costs of climate change.
Work Satisfaction: In 2016, the well being cost of work dissatisfaction was $44 billion.