“The Germans are more satisfied today than they have been for the last ten years,” said study director Professor Bernd Reffelhüschen in statement. The survey, called “The Happiness Atlas 2011,” was conducted in conjunction with the Allensbach polling institute, for logistics company Deutsche Post.
Plumbing the mood of 19 regions in Germany, Hamburg citizens recorded the highest level of happiness, ranking their feelings a positive 7.38 points from a possible ten.
Other regions with the jolliest Germans included Lower Saxony along the North Sea (7.14), and southern Bavaria (7.10). Residents in the eastern German states of Thuringia (6.45) and Brandenburg (6.56) were least satisfied with their lot in life.
Nonetheless, the difference in contentment between states belonging to former communist East Germany and the western states has shrunk to a mere 0.3 points. Twenty years ago, after the after the fall of the wall, the gap was 1.3 points.
Deutsche Post sponsored the survey with the aim of spurring social discussion about what's important in life.
“The significance of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the sole indicator of prosperity is increasingly criticised in science and politics. The Happiness Atlas 2011 helps us understand what is really important to the Germans for their life satisfaction,” said Jürgen Gerdes, Deutsche Post board member.
Although having a good salary was ranked among the study's top ten happiness factors, the most important influences in determining satisfaction were good health, a stable marriage or relationship and spending time with friends and acquaintances.
Weekly sports activities and decision-making authority at work also played a part in determining overall well-being, along with the age of participants. Men and women aged 20 to 30 reported being happiest, while middle-aged Germans were less content.
But Germans older than 65 had happiness levels matching the those of 30-year-olds.
Data in the Happiness Atlas is based on an annual survey of 12,000 German households made since 1984.