Young people are also drinking and smoking less, making them healthier and happier.  AAP/David Clark
Young people are also drinking and smoking less, making them healthier and happier. AAP/David Clark

Why young people are happier than ever

YOUNG Aussies are happier than they've been in a decade.

New research claims that since 2002 joy levels among Australians aged 18-25 has soared because they're more likely to be flush with cash, feel safer and be more connected.

Deakin University analysed 16 years of data from the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index to find the "life satisfaction score" has improved from 73.4 out of 100 in 2002 to 77.8 in 2018. Lead author and senior research fellow Dr Delyse Hutchinson said the steady improvement was significant and ran contrary to perceptions that young people are unhappy about housing affordability and being saddled with debt.

She said declining alcohol and tobacco use could be a sign young people are ­focusing on their health more than ever - which is fuelling their happiness.

"There is a trend toward greater health and wellbeing generally," she said.

"We see health being a focus, and there are a number of other surveys which show improvements on health indicators, like alcohol use has declined and some illicit drug use has declined."


The study found happiness among young people in 2018 was linked to increases since 2002 in satisfaction with their personal safety, community connectedness, standard of living and future security.

Dr Hutchinson said the survey reveals young people aren't as unhappy as society perceives them to be.

"It is a convincing positive story. In a way, the results run counter to that prevailing view of young people being burdened and being unhappy."

A young person's happiness improved irrespective of whether they still lived at home with their parents or had moved out.

At the other end of the scale, those aged 76 and older reported a fall in their life satisfaction from 79.5 in 2002 to 77.2 in 2018.

They remained satisfied with their health but reported being more worried about future security, personal relationships and their standard of living.

The results of the study didn't surprise Sydney resident Alex King, 25, and girlfriend Sophie McClellan, 21.

"I definitely feel safe and comfortable - there is such a good standard of living in Sydney," Mr King said.

"I have a very good relationship, family life and am surrounded by my mates at rugby.

"We can spend a day at the Harbour or at Bondi and you can't get that anywhere else and you realise how lucky we are," he said.