Michaela Benzeval

Professor Michaela Benzeval, Director, Understanding Society, University of Essex

HILDA provides unique insights into lives of Australians over time, which is important for science and policy in Australia and beyond.

As Director of Understanding Society (the UK equivalent of HILDA), I know beyond any doubt that the knowledge that scientists and policy makers have gained from the HILDA Study would not be possible without you carrying out your interview every year. Some people’s lives change, others stay the same; hearing about both change and stability over time is important to learning about how different policies and changes in the economy or society more generally affect the lives of people in different situations.

One of the unique features of HILDA is, that by interviewing and following everyone in the household, researchers and policy makers can understand how changes in the health or lives of one family member may impact on the lives of others at the same time or later.

Talking to everyone in the household, in the good times and the bad, is therefore vital to help our understanding of how change might impact on different family members, and the breadth of policies that need to consider this.

While meeting with policy makers in Canberra last year, I was really impressed by the wide range of government departments, agencies, banks and charities that make use of the study to understand Australian lives and improve their policies.

HILDA is part of a family too; a family of international household panel studies. As well as HILDA and my own study in the UK, there are others in USA, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Korea, Japan, China to name a few. We work together to learn from each other and also carry out research comparing findings in different countries to see
how different government policies work in different communities and cultures.

But none of this would be possible without you and your family, and families like yours across the world, providing valuable information every year so that we can understand your lives within your household, within Australia and across the world.