The social dimensions of happiness and life satisfaction of Australians: Evidence from the World Values Survey

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Relatively short-term verbal therapies and other forms of intervention may help people to overcome difficult passages in life, but studies in recent decades have pointed to the salience of social and economic conditions in shaping life satisfaction and happiness. The present study contributes to our knowledge of this field by extending the range of social factors considered, but also, crucially, by the employment of statistical analyses that serve to disentangle the often overlapping variables associated with life satisfaction and happiness. Our results support previous ‘demographic’ findings as well as new results including education, marriage, children, human rights and, particularly in the context of Australian society, perceived choice in life. Establishing what the major contributing factors are can assist the formulation of social policy. Moreover, it can alert practitioners to the value of consolidating their work by encouraging service users to utilise community sources that enhance life satisfaction and/or happiness.

Key Practitioner Message: • The informed linking of service users to sources of life satisfaction and happiness can ‘value add’ direct service interventions; • The salience of exercising individual choice to achieving life satisfaction reinforces the importance of the practice principle of self-determination; • A person's sense of physical wellbeing is a relevant part of social assessment and subsequent planned actions.

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