Happiness Amongst Teens in Australia

  • Tony Beatton
  • Paul FrijtersEmail author


Richard Easterlin’s lifetime happiness theory holds that people get less happy over the life-cycle as exaggerated expectations hit; this has been found to be true for the 20–50 age range in many Western countries. This paper looks at the implications for child happiness and asks: when does the ‘disappointment with reality’ start to bite in early life, i.e. when does happiness drop? We develop child-specific scales to measure the effect of personality and childhood life satisfaction domains. With an internet-based survey, we collect unique data from 389 Australian children aged 9–14. Adding to previous findings that satisfaction levels Australian life decline between age 15 and 23 by almost 0.7 on a ten-point scale, we find an even steeper decline before age 14. Using a decomposition method, we show that the natural environment domain has no significant effect on childhood life satisfaction, whilst the children’s school environment and interaction with friends domains explain over 40% of the decline in childhood life satisfaction. This decline is steepest when the children transition to high school. As expected, extraverted children are happier, but unexpectedly, so are conscientious children.



We thank Dr. Markus Schaffner of the Queensland Behavioural Economics Group (QuBE); Leesa Watkin (QUT Smart Train Project Manager), and; Annie Harris (Department of Innovation, Tourism Industry Development, Queensland State Government) for their considerable technical, organisational, and financial assistance.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT)BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.London School of EconomicsLondonUK

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