Australian youth enjoy high levels of wellbeing overall, but youth polled do not perceive it that way.
At 2nd, Australia ranks in the top tier of Index countries overall. It scores in the top third in all domains, except for health. This is a pattern observed for many developed economies, including Sweden, which tops the Index ranks overall.
Several factors explain Australia’s lower rank in the health domain. Australia is 18th for youth stress, with 51 percent of young Australians who responded to the Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey agreeing with the statement “my life is too stressful.” Adolescent perceptions of their health and high suicide rates also contribute to Australia’s lower health score. Fifty-five percent of young people feel that their physical health is near perfect; while a majority, this response rate places Australia at 26th for this indicator. Australia ranks 24th for youth self-harm fatalities (23 per 100,000 youth); these rates are especially high among indigenous men.
Australia ranks 1st for citizen participation, with high scores on all indicators in that domain, especially with youth volunteering. Forty-two percent of young people say they have volunteered in the last month.
Australia’s increase in GDP per capita over the last 55 years has outpaced the world average, and the country is consistently above average on global competitiveness. Early-stage entrepreneurial activity has grown steadily since 2010 and stood at 15 percent in 2016. Australia has a lower youth unemployment rate (13 percent) than the Index average (17 percent).
Over the last 16 years, public spending on education has been consistent at about 14 percent. While this number is a few points below the Index average, the actual amount of investment is moderately high given the country’s base budget.
Australia ranks 7th in gender equality. While this is a relatively high placement in this domain, the country ranks below many of its developed economy peers and China. The high percentage of Australian women that fear walking alone at night (52 percent of Gallup World Poll respondents) brings down Australia’s ranking for gender equality slightly.
An important achievement to highlight is the country’s steady progress in decreasing youth road fatalities from 1990 through 2015 (from 57 per 100,000 youth to 26 per 100,000). Road accidents are the primary cause of youth deaths worldwide.
The Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey
The perceptions of the young Australians who responded to the Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey largely do not match the country’s performance on quantitative indicators. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) do not believe government cares about their wants and needs. Australia ranks 25th for youth polled who felt their standard of living will be better than that of their parents; only 32 percent agreed with that statement. Despite the country’s relatively high rank on safety and security, nearly 30 percent of young people polled are concerned about violence, abuse, bullying, or harassment at school or work.
Perception data must be grounded in the country context. This is especially true for the finding on youth optimism about their future standard of living. Australia’s base standard is relatively high, which is likely influencing the pessimism of youth polled that their future living standard will exceed that of their parents.
The one area of alignment between youth perceptions and the domain score is education: 79 percent of young people polled in Australia felt satisfied with their education system. However, this response is also seen in countries with low scores on objective education indicators.