Income insecurity brings on the blues

New research by Deakin University in Australia suggests a lack of income security is giving one in five folk depression.

Research respondents were asked to rate their income security on a scale from 10 to zero, where 10 is certainty and zero is uncertainty, 20 per cent rated their certainty level as five or less.

Many felt they were living close to the financial edge, which raises questions about whether folk are forgetting the importance of planning ahead and managing financial situations effectively to accommodate the unexpected.

The Reserve Bank (Australia), and the same with NZ, says debt has risen much faster than disposable household income. Folk need to consider what these patterns of debt and consumption are actually doing to our wellbeing and quality of life.

The good people at Deakin also found that income uncertainty is a far more negative influence on wellbeing than either distress at mortgage interest rate rises or petrol prices.

Income uncertainty puts an individual's wellbeing at below normal levels and, as a consequence, they face a higher risk of depression.  This is a concern given that so many are convinced that happiness will come from purchasing material possessions, and are caught in what has been recently described as the ‘work-and-spend’ cycle.

Over-spending contributes to increasing folk’s stress about their income. Income security has a bigger impact on those with household incomes of less than $30,000 and this certainly has parallels here in New Zealand.

 

Original Article published January 2007

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