August 11, 2022

Pandemic times not all bad for household relationships

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 9047
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Taking The Pulse of the Nation

Informing Australian economic & social policy.

A Melbourne Institute & Roy Morgan partnership

Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) surveys the Australian population to capture their sentiments and behaviours related to current economic and social issues

Since 2020, the Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) survey has collected compelling information on the changing behaviours and attitudes of Australians. Together, Melbourne Institute and Roy Morgan understand the value in capturing the voices of Australians on the issues that matter right now. We use this information to create expert analyses to directly inform social and economic policies for our Nation.

This survey data is available to the public upon request. Please contact us for more information and access.

Pandemic times not all bad for household relationships

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s lives and relationships in unprecedented ways. Though it is widely recognised that one major impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a reduction in the way Australians socialise, it seems for some groups the pandemic may have improved their wellbeing and brought households closer. Surprisingly, the experience of prolonged hardship experienced by young adults and families over the past few years, in particular, has not consistently adversely affected their overall life satisfaction and quality of household relationships.

More than half of Australian adults experienced no decline in life satisfaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic

When asked about the impact the pandemic has had on overall life satisfaction, 45% reported that it was the same as before the pandemic and around 15% felt that their life satisfaction improved (Figure 1 – See Melbourne Institute TTPN website portal). Still, two in five (40%) Australian’s felt that their overall satisfaction with life got worse because of the pandemic.

Improvement in life satisfaction greater among young adults and families with children

Despite greater pressures related to issues such as job loss, working from home and remote learning, young people and families with children living at home were the groups who were more likely to experience an improvement in their life satisfaction compared to before the pandemic (Figure 1 – see Melbourne Institute TTPN website portal).

Most people within these groups reported no decline in their life satisfaction. Among the young adults (ages 18-34), around 60% reported that their life satisfaction improved or stayed the same compared to before the pandemic. A similar number of Australians with children living at home (62%) also reported no decline in their life satisfaction compared to before the pandemic.

While it has been established that these two groups have been negatively affected by the pandemic in terms of mental distress, loneliness, housing stress and economic fallout due to job loss, this data indicates that, for many Australians, these events may not have led to a decrease in satisfaction with life overall.

Life satisfaction linked to better household relationships

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost 20% of people stated that interactions with their household members improved, with a further 69% reporting no change in the quality of such interactions. The improvement in relationships with fellow household members was again much larger among young adults (31%) and families with children (27%) (Figure 2 – see Melbourne Institute TTPN website portal).
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been linked to several adverse outcomes, a significant proportion of Australians report that they experienced an increase in life satisfaction relative to before the pandemic started. This is especially true for younger Australians and parents living with dependent children. For these groups, more time spent at home arguably allowed for greater opportunities to invest in meaningful relationships, with positive wellbeing benefits.

Author: Dr Diana Contreras Suarez, Senior Research Fellow, Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research.

About Taking the Pulse of the Nation:

*Beginning in April 2020, the Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) was conceptualised and implemented by a group of researchers at the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research. In 2022, the Melbourne Institute and Roy Morgan formed a partnership to extend the running of the TTPN. Each wave includes a set of core questions, as well as additional questions that address current and emerging issues facing Australians. The sample is stratified to reflect the Australian adult population in terms of age, gender, and location. The TTPN Survey uses a repeated cross-sectional design.

This analysis is performed by the Melbourne Institute. This analysis is based on a sample of 1,004 survey respondents in the March 2022 wave of the TTPN. 

Visit the Melbourne Institute Taking the Pulse of the Nation web portal for further information - and to access interactive charts and other TTPN findings.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

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