Disenfranchised but safe: Australia now.

The ABS has just released an odd bundle of data with a whole lot of hidden gems in it.

This part on political enfranchisement caught my eye. Between 2006 and 2014 fewer people felt able to have a say, down from 29 per cent to 24 per cent. Meanwhile, a growing share of people thought they couldn’t have a say.

politically invovled

But it’s not all bad news. Aussies feel a lot safer.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 12.16.00 pm Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 12.13.30 pm

Is this the classic trade-off of voting for authoritarian governments – gaining safety but giving up your voice?  Perhaps that’s a bit glib…

Let’s look instead at how men and women perceive safety.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 12.23.55 pm

Women fear more for their safety. They are three times more likely to feel very unsafe.

The question itself though is a bad one. How much you fear for your safety when home alone is less important than how much you fear for your safety when you’re home with your partner.

Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged 15-44, according to White Ribbon.

I call on the ABS to lift its game and ask the right questions.

This next set of data didn’t come in a time series, but was interesting. A snapshot of who is happiest, it contains a few surprises: The elderly are the happiest, recent migrants are happier than average, and gays and lesbians are about as happy as the average.

life satisfaction

It  shows where society can improve – people with mental health conditions are far worse off than the average, and people who identify as non-heterosexual but not gay or lesbian are the least happy of all. I’m not sure what the policy options are for that last category, but I do know we can and should do more in mental health prevention and treatment.

One simpler issue I’d like to draw attention to is the unemployed. They are more unhappy than a person with a disability, and there’s more of them than there have been for years. Joe Hockey’s first Budget must bear a lot of blame for Australia’s recent surging unemployment rate. His second budget is better, but still not enough to undo the harm. Fixing unemployment is not a parlour game of economic philosophy. It’s an urgent issue to do with human suffering and it should be a national priority.

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thomasthethinkengine

Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

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