Australians’ satisfaction with their standard of living has declined, disproportionately among women

With cost-of-living pressures and inflation on the rise, the latest wave of the Ipsos Financial Circumstances Report has found the proportion of Australians satisfied with their standard of living continues to decline. Since July 2020, that decline has been felt disproportionately among Australian women, who have seen a dramatic decrease over this period. 

Ipsos surveyed 1,000 people between 10th - 16th March 2022. This year’s results are compared to March 2021 and July 2020, noting that the July 2020 survey occurred after much of the country went into lockdown, and a raft of Government stimulus packages to lessen the economic impact of the lockdown were introduced.

The key findings of the 2022 Ipsos Financial Circumstances are: 

  • While Australians’ satisfaction with their standard of living remains positive, significant declines are noted over the past two waves.
    • In March 2022, 56% of Australians were satisfied and 22% dissatisfied, giving a net satisfaction score of 34%.
    • In March 2021, 66% of Australians were satisfied and 14% dissatisfied, giving a net satisfaction score of 52%.
    • In July 2020, 71% of Australians were satisfied and 13% dissatisfied, giving a net satisfaction score of 58%.
  • Some declines were noted among Australian males in 2022, where satisfaction rates now stand at 62%, down from 67% in 2021 and 2020.
    • Interestingly, males see a larger rise in dissatisfaction (19%), up from 11% in 2021 and 13% in 2020
    • Males’ net satisfaction score of is now at 43%, down from 56% in 2021 and 54% in 2020.
  • Australian women, on the other hand, have seen larger, continued declines in satisfaction over time.
    • 2022 saw a 16% decline in satisfaction versus 2021 (from 66% to 50%). This follows an 8% decline in satisfaction versus 2020 (from 74% to 66%).
    • Dissatisfaction has increased to a lesser extent, up from 17% to 25% versus 2021. This follows the previous increase (from 12% to 17%) versus 2021.
    • Overall, this has resulted in a very large decline in the female net satisfaction score among Australian women over the past 18 months (25%, down from 49% 2021 and 62% in 2020).
  • Along with these declines in satisfaction with standard of living, more Australians think their personal financial circumstances will continue to decline over the next 12 months.
  • 26% of Australians expect their personal financial circumstances to get better over the next year, while 33% think they will get worse, giving a net negative outlook of - 7%, which is a significant change from the +12% net positive outlook in 2021.
  • The current net negative outlook is more aligned with July 2020 (-11%), when large scale COVID-19 restrictions were still in place and far greater uncertainty associated with COVID-19 was around.
  • While both men and women currently have a net negative outlook, pessimism is greater among women (-11%) versus men (-4%).
  • Among those who think their personal financial circumstances will get worse, inflationary pressures associated with increased cost of living are the most cited reason for this pessimism.

Despite the decline in satisfaction with standard of living and the pessimism around people’s financial future, the proportion of people reporting that they are consistently late in meeting relevant financial obligations remains steady at this stage.

  • On average, across all relevant financial commitments, 24% of Australians surveyed in March 2022 claimed they are consistently late making payments, which is similar to 2021 (23%), and up slightly from 2020 (19%), noting that the later was when a debt moratorium was applied to some payments.
  • Males continue to be more likely to be late on eligible financial commitments (27% consistently late, versus 22% among females) which is similar to previous years
    • Males 27% consistently late versus 18% females in 2021
    • Males 21% consistently late versus 17% females in 2020

Ipsos Public Affairs Director, Ben Brown, said: “The declining satisfaction with current standards of living and increased pessimistic outlook demonstrates the importance that cost of living will play in the upcoming Federal election. This is consistent with what we are seeing in the Ipsos Issues Monitor, which shows a sharp rise in the cost of living as a key issue facing the nation. https://www.ipsos.com/en-au/ipsos-issues-monitor Alongside these results, it demonstrates that cost of living will likely be one of the key issues Australians consider in the upcoming election. Whichever party can effectively demonstrate their ability to manage this, may go a long way toward forming government.

Furthermore, the disparity opening up on these measures suggests that is not an issue that will be simple to tackle, as there are differences in how males and females perceive the issue.

While the proportion of Australians who are satisfied with their standard of living still outweighs those who are not, the fact that the proportion of Australians who feel things are going to get worse now outnumber those who feel it will get better, indicates the tough job ahead for whoever wins the upcoming federal election."

About the Study

  • These are findings from an online survey conducted between 10th - 16th March 2022.
  • The sample each wave consists of 1,000 individuals in Australia aged 18+.
  • The data is weighted to ensure sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the Australian adult population according to 2016 census data.
  • Sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error. The precision of the online surveys conducted is measured using a Bayesian Credibility Interval. Here, the poll has a credibility interval of +/-3.5 percentage points. For more information on the Ipsos use of credibility intervals, please go to: https://www.ipsos.com/sites/default/files/2017-03/IpsosPA_CredibilityIntervals.pdf
  • Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses.
  • This study did not have any external sponsors or partners. It was initiated and run by Ipsos, because we are curious about the world we live in and how citizens around the globe think and feel about their world.  
  • More information at: https://www.ipsos.com/en-au/financial-circumstances

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