Skip to main content
  1. Australian Unity Media Centre
  2. News & Media
  3. We’re better off than our parents, but will our kids be better off than us? We think so.

We’re better off than our parents, but will our kids be better off than us? We think so.

28 Aug 2017

Two in every three Australians consider themselves financially better off than their parents were at the same age, while 70 per cent of parents believe their kids will end up at least as well off as them.

This perception of growing intergenerational financial security is revealed in the latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey, which also finds just one in four Australians expect their own financial situation to be worse in five years’ time.

“Despite issues around housing affordability, concerns over future energy supply, rapidly rising utility costs, education debts, low wages growth and perhaps most threateningly the uncertainty of a disrupted jobs market, the Wellbeing Index survey shows people have a positive view of both their own and their children’s future financial position,”  Deakin University Senior Research Fellow Dr Delyse Hutchinson said.

“Perceptions of financial security are improving as we move through the generations,” Dr Hutchinson said. “We are likely to consider ourselves better off than our parents were at our age, and if we are a parent ourselves, we are likely to believe our children will be at least as well off in the future as we are now.”

“And just one in four of us believe we have gone backwards financially in the last five years, with a similar low proportion expecting to be financially worse off in five years’ time,” she said.

The index, a 16-year joint project of Australian Unity and the Australian Centre on Quality of Life (Deakin University), measures satisfaction with life across a range of areas—standard of living, health, achievement, personal relationships, safety, community connection and future security. The 2017 survey of 2000 people revealed an average personal wellbeing (PWI) score of 75.5 (out of 100), within the normal range. (See figure 1 below)

Again in 2017, the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index results highlight the three core elements of personal wellbeing – financial security, a strong relationship and a sense of purpose in life. This has been dubbed the “golden triangle of wellbeing.”

The survey findings also confirm young adults and those aged over 66 are the happiest Australians, with a wellbeing dip occurring in middle age. (See figure 2 below)

On the topic of intergenerational financial security, the survey finds 42.4 per cent of parents believe their children will be financially better off than they are, 28.2 per cent say they will be about the same, and just 29.4 per cent say their children will be worse off. Comparing their financial situation to their own parents at the same age, 66.8 per cent of those surveyed said they were better off, 10.9 per cent said they were the same, and 22.4 per cent said they were in worse financial shape.

Dr Hutchinson said while the survey doesn’t examine the reasons behind the numbers, she suspected that people overall are broadly optimistic, which flows into their views on their own and their children’s financial futures.

Australian Unity spokesman Stephen Lunn said the index “takes a holistic approach to measuring Australians’ wellbeing by looking at factors outside of economic considerations that are impacting our lives.”

“Policy makers and the general public can be informed on what social issues are important to our personal and national wellbeing,” Mr Lunn said.


The full report can be viewed at:

For further information or to request an interview please contact:

Dr Delyse Hutchinson (0425 218 628) or

For further questions, please contact

Stephen Lunn, Australian Unity, (0401 704352), or


Figure 1.

Figure 2


The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index monitors the subjective wellbeing of the population on issues of personal wellbeing and national wellbeing. The first survey was conducted in April 2001 and this report concerns the 34th survey undertaken in 2017. The survey involved telephone interviews of 2000 Australians.

About Australian Unity

Australian Unity is a national health, wealth and living mutual company providing services to almost one million Australians, including about 280.000 members. Australian Unity’s history as a trusted mutual organisation dates back to 1840.

About Deakin University

Established in 1974, Deakin University was the first university in regional Victoria and the first to specialise in distance education. Deakin today has five campuses: one in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, two in Geelong, one in Warrnambool with the fifth, and fastest growing campus, in the cloud (online). Deakin has more than 53,000 students, with almost a quarter choosing to study wholly in the cloud. Through its teaching and research Deakin aims to build the jobs of the future, using the opportunities of the digital age to widen access to education and make a difference to the communities it serves.

Media contactsMore about the Wellbeing IndexDownload release (pdf)