Allianz Future Optimism Index
Sydney, 9 November 2011
Nearly 4 out of 5 Australians are not optimistic about the future of the economy, with Coalition voters the most pessimistic
Allianz and Newspoll have joined forces to conduct a bi-monthly survey which measures Australians’ level of optimism about the future of the economy, environment and society, as well as their overall happiness. The results for these four measures are combined to create the Allianz Future Optimism Index.
According to the Allianz Future Optimism Index, the decline in Australians’ optimism about the future of the economy that has occurred between November 2010 and May this year has been maintained. Whereas 29% of Australians were optimistic about the future of the economy in November 2010, this proportion declined over the summer to a low point since the survey commenced of 22% in May 2011, where it has remained unchanged ever since.
Chart 1: Allianz Future Confidence Index: Changes in optimism/pessimism – Nov 2010 to September 2011
Commenting on the results, Allianz Australia Managing Director, Terry Towell, said “according to the Allianz Future Optimism Index, Australians’ optimism about the economy fell to a low since the survey commenced of 22% in May 2011, where it has lingered ever since. With only 22% of respondents describing themselves as optimistic, around 4 out of 5 Australians are either neutral or pessimistic about the future of the economy. It appears that the ongoing talk about a two-speed economy, rising unemployment and media coverage about the economic woes of the US and Europe, continues to take its toll on Australians’ optimism about the future of the economy.”
A detailed demographic analysis of the latest Allianz Future Optimism Index shows some interesting variations across the nation:
• While men have typically been more bullish than females about the economy, in the most recent survey, the proportion of men that are optimistic has slipped back by 6 percentage points to 25% (women remained at 20%). Perhaps some men were expecting a quicker bounce back after the GFC than has occurred.
• Young Australians aged 18-34, 34% of whom were optimistic about the future of the economy back in November 2010, have also had their hopes and expectations dashed over recent months. In July, the proportion of Optimists in this age group fell by 7 points to 27% and the most recent survey saw a similar decline to 20%.
• Optimism among NSW residents seemed to get a boost from the change in Government when the proportion of optimists increased from 23% before the March election to reach 29% in July. However, this has been short-lived, with the proportion of optimists in NSW falling back to 21% in the most recent survey, the lowest since the survey commenced.
• The proportion of optimists among West Australians, on the other hand, has rebounded from 21% in July to 33% in the most recent survey. The proportion of optimists in WA is significantly higher than any other State, with daylight between the West and the next highest, which was Victoria, where 23% of residents were optimistic about the future of the economy.
Coalition voters less optimistic about the future
Perceptions about the future vary markedly between those with different political party allegiances. Labor voters (37%) continue to be around twice as likely to be optimistic about the future of the economy as supporters of the Coalition (17%) and other parties (20%).
Stark differences between Labor and Coalition voters are also apparent in other measures of the Allianz Future Optimism Index. For example,
• at 16%, Labor voters are around twice as likely to be pessimistic about the future of the environment than Coalition voters, at only 7%;
• at 18%, Labor voters are more likely to be optimistic about the future of our society (in relation to crime levels and community values) than Coalition voters, at 11%.
About the Allianz Future Optimism Index
The Newspoll survey on which the Allianz Future Optimism Indexes are based, asks around 1200 Australians to rate each of the following statements on a scale of 0-10, where 10 is extremely optimistic and 0 is not optimistic at all:
1. The future of the economy;
2. The future of the environment in relation to pollution and climate change;
3. The future of our society in relation to crime levels and community values;
4. The overall future prospects and happiness for you and your family.
The responses to these questions are multiplied by ten to obtain an equivalent score out of 100 and averaged to create an index score out of 100 for each question. The four sub-indices are then averaged to obtain the overall Allianz Future Optimism Index.
In the analysis of the survey, respondents that give a score of 8 or more out of 10 are regarded as being optimistic and those with a score of 3 or less out of 10 are regarded as being pessimistic. Results based on these definitions are given as a proportion of the demographic group in question (eg 30% of Australians are optimistic/pessimistic about the economy).
More detailed demographic and geographic results for the Allianz Future Optimism Index are available on request.
The latest survey was conducted by telephone among a national sample of 1205 adults aged 18+. Fieldwork was conducted over the period of the 16-18 September 2011 and results were post-weighted using the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics population estimates.
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