Traditional Culture and the Well-Being of Indigenous Australians: An Analysis of the 2008 NATSISS
Posted: 9 Jun 2011
Date Written: May 1, 2011
Research based on data from the 2002 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey found evidence of a positive link between Indigenous Australians’ attachment to their traditional culture and a range of mainstream socio-economic indicators, contrary to the common assumption that traditional culture is a barrier to achievement. This paper uses data from the 2008 NATSISS to further explore the concept of ‘cultural attachment,’ breaking it down into four constituent elements: participation in cultural events and activities, cultural identity, language and participation in traditional economic activities. The positive effects of cultural attachment on mainstream socio-economic indicators are confirmed, and now found to extend to subjective well-being. This is important as subjective measures of well-being are based on Indigenous peoples’ own values and preferences. Indigenous Australians who identify more strongly with their traditional culture are happier and display better mental health, but at the same time experience more psychological stress due to stronger feelings of discrimination. The findings suggest that traditional cultures should be preserved and strengthened as a means to both improving the well-being of Indigenous Australians and to ‘closing the gap’ on mainstream socio-economic indicators.
Keywords: Indigenous culture, well-being, Australia
JEL Classification: 100, J71, Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation