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Is Life In Australia Getting Better?

15 September, 2010

Is life in Australia getting better?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released a report today containing a range of information that should help Australians decide if life is getting better.

“That’s a big question – is life better now than it was ten years ago?” said Mr Brian Pink, Australian Statistician. “Measuring progress in this very broad sense is one of the most challenging and important new tasks confronting national statistical agencies across the world”, Mr Pink said.

Today’s report, Measures of Australia’s Progress, presents reliable, easy to understand information that describes how Australia is progressing across a range of social, economic and environmental measures.

How has Australia progressed?

* Health: During the past decade Australia's health improved - children born in 2009 were expected to live two to three years longer than those born in 1999.
* Education and training: During the past 10 years, the Australian population became more educated - between 1999 and 2009 the proportion of people with a vocational or higher education qualification rose from 49% to 63%.
* Work: Despite the recent economic downturn, Australia's annual average unemployment rate was lower in 2009 (5.6%) than in 1999 (6.9%).
* National income: Australia experienced significant real income growth during the past decade. Between 1998-99 and 2008-09, real net national disposable income per capita grew by 2.6% a year.
* National wealth: National wealth, as measured in Australia's balance sheet, grew over the last decade. Real national net worth per capita increased by about 0.9% a year between June 1999 and June 2009.
* Household economic wellbeing: In the decade to 2007-08, the real average household income of low income Australians grew by 41%.

Where can Australia improve?

* Biodiversity: There's been a decline in Australia's biodiversity over the past decade with the number of threatened animals increasing by 37%.
* Atmosphere: Australia's total net greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 were 16% higher than they were in 1998.

For discussion on changes over time, the context for these changes, and changes across different groups of Australians, please see the full online product, Measures of Australia's Progress 2010 at www.abs.gov.au/about/progress.