A decade and a half of economic growth, rising incomes and a housing boom hasn't made Australians -- traditionally proud of their country's "Lucky Country" moniker -- any happier.
A survey for the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper showed that only a quarter of the population of a country blessed with abundant sunshine, scenic beauty and a lifestyle much envied in many other countries think that life is getting better, while four in 10 believe things are getting worse.
Factors behind the pessimism, the newspaper said in its Saturday edition, include the insecurity of rising mortgage repayments as well as long work hours, engendering a sense that wealth doesn't automatically bring happiness.
"Given that economic conditions have been very favourable for over a decade - it seems remarkable that only a quarter of the population believes that life in Australia is improving and four in 10 believe it is deteriorating," the Herald quoted Clive Hamilton, director of research body The Australian Institute, as saying.
Some 77 per cent of the 1,000 respondents in the poll said the government should try and make them happier, not richer.
But it was not all gloom. The poll also found that 60 percent put a strong emphasis on family relationships, saying it was the single most important factor contributing to their happiness.
"It's widely believed Australians are intensely materialistic," Hamilton told the paper.
"But not far beneath the surface Australians know it's their relationships that sustain them."