Advancing wellbeing research: Would Americans be happier if they lived like Australians?



Publication Details

Patulny, R. and Fisher, K. (2012). Advancing wellbeing research: Would Americans be happier if they lived like Australians?. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 47 (1), 29-50.

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Centre for Time Use Research


International comparisons of emotional wellbeing rarely account for the situational and social context of the experience of emotions (such as happiness or pleasantness) associated with everyday activities. A small number of studies have revealed the emotional context of the daily time‑schedules of Americans. Knowing the emotions people associate with patterns of experience opens up the possibility of modelling how national emotional wellbeing might change, should policy persuade people to alter their routines. We compare time‑use patterns in two countries with relatively similar cultural and institutional contexts, Australia and the United States, to see how people in the United States might feel if they altered their routines to live more like Australians. We find that such a change could yield a reduction in unpleasant time in certain categories, such as paid work, but at the cost of losing more pleasant time in other activities, including socialising. We also find that men and women are likely to have different responses to policies that alter general behaviour. This paper highlights the need for future research to explore the emotional diversity, emotion work, and gender gaps in the emotional wellbeing of nations.

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