Af-flu-en-za (n). 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the Joneses. 2. An epidemic of stress, overwork, waste and indebtedness caused by dogged pursuit of the Australian dream. 3. An unsustainable addiction to economic growth.

Our houses are bigger than ever, but our families are smaller. Our kids go to the best schools we can afford, but we hardly see them. We’ve got more money to spend, yet we’re further in debt than ever before. What is going on?

The Western world is in the grip of a consumption binge that is unique in human history. We aspire to the lifestyles of the rich and famous at the cost of family, friends and personal fulfilment. Rates of stress, depression and obesity are up as we wrestle with the emptiness and endless disappointments of the consumer life.

Affluenza pulls no punches, claiming our whole society is addicted to overconsumption. It tracks how much Australians overwork, the growing mountains of stuff we throw out, the drugs we take to ‘self-medicate’ and the real meaning of ‘choice’. Fortunately there is a cure. More and more Australians are deciding to ignore the advertisers, reduce their consumer spending and recapture their time for the things that really matter.


Part I A society going nowhere
1. Affluenza
2. Consuming passions
3. Spreading the virus
4. How much is enough?

Part II The effects of affluenza
5. Debt
6. Overwork
7. Wasteful consumption
8. Spending ourselves sick

Part III What can be done?
9. The politics of affluenza
10. The downshifters
11. A new politics
Wellbeing Manifesto for a Flourishing Society


‘Fascinating—at the same time a call to arms and a chill-pill, Affluenza challenges not just individuals, but society itself.’
Adam Spencer, comedian, mathematician and former radio DJ

‘Clive Hamilton and Richard Denniss at the Australia Institute never disappoint—they set out on paths others don’t go down, then explore without fear or favour and finally draw conclusions about modern Australia, warts and all. It’s all accompanied by passion which is why the results cannot be ignored.’
Geraldine Doogue, ABC broadcaster


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