Middle aged Australians unsatisfied with life

AUSTRALIANS are generally happy with their lives, but having a baby, getting divorced and losing your partner can cause falls in "life satisfaction".

Some Australian Institute of Family Studies research tracked the life satisfaction of almost 27,000 people for up to 12 years of their lives.

It found how people's satisfaction with their lives changed through major life transitions such as the birth of a child, separations, retirement and widowing.

Institute senior research fellow Professor David de Vaus said the study found life satisfaction fell from the age of 15 to the mid-30s.

"People experienced stable but lower satisfaction with life from the mid-30s to the early 50s, the period of lowest life satisfaction," he said.

The study showed a rise in satisfaction before a baby's birth, but a fall after the birth for both men and women.

Similarly, the first six years of a live-in partnership were linked to a rise in satisfaction, but separation came with a sharp decline.