Mental Health and Life Satisfaction of Young Australians: The Role of Family Background

20 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2008


This paper uses the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey to investigate the factors that influence young Australians mental health and life satisfaction, with an emphasis upon the role of family background. It also explores male and female differences concerning those background effects. The results indicate a particularly significant negative association between parental divorce and well-being, and suggest that the timing of divorce matters. Distinguishing the samples by gender shows that this relationship remains significant only for females. Past living arrangements consistently turn out to be statistically insignificant whether the sample used is the total, males or females. The current living arrangements, however, appear to be significantly associated with both mental health and life satisfaction of males. Adding potentially confounding characteristics to our basic regression, which includes only the family background variables, suggests that some of the 'aggregate effects' of family background might work indirectly through the mediating variables such as education or lifestyles, though most of them remain direct. Among those, marital status, education, labour market experience and lifestyles seem to be the major factors explaining the dispersion in well-being of young Australians. Income and wealth, on the other hand, have only a minor impact.

Suggested Citation

Ulker, Aydogan, Mental Health and Life Satisfaction of Young Australians: The Role of Family Background. Australian Economic Papers, Vol. 47, Issue 2, pp. 199-218, June 2008. Available at SSRN: or

Aydogan Ulker (Contact Author)

Deakin University ( email )

75 Pigdons Road
Victoria, 3216

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