• Germany's news in English

Wallets, weather, age trouble Germans most

The Local · 4 Sep 2014, 16:01

Published: 04 Sep 2014 16:01 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"Citizens worry most about money, the environment and their health," said Rita Jakli, spokeswoman for insurance company R+V Versicherung that has produced the "Fears of the Germans" study annually since 1992.

This year, the number 1 cause of concern was the Eurozone crisis and its economic impact on Germany, cited by 60 percent of 2,400 people polled across the country.

"Germany is one of the countries that to a large and disproportional extent are liable and expected to shoulder the cost of supporting indebted EU members," said Dr Manfred Schmidt, a political scientist at Heidelberg University and adviser to the study.

Specifically, "The majority of Germans are afraid the Eurozone crisis will hit tax payers hard and that the cost of living is rising," Jakli added. But the issue was still down 8 percent on last year.

Generally though, Germans are now more relaxed than at any point in the survey's 22-year history, said the researchers, citing a two percent drop in the overall 'Fear Index'.

Old age looming large

Sharing the number two slot, a major concern for most people is old age and the prospect of dependency on others and needing special care.

Women are more worried at 58 percent, compared to 45 percent among men. The threat of serious illness also troubles 54 percent of women, compared to 40 percent of men.

"Because of their long life expectancy, women are much more afraid of having to be cared for," said Jakli. "Moreover, as a rule they carry the brunt of giving care in the home, and so they know how nerve-wracking and costly that is."  Around 2.5 million people currently receive care in Germany.

Fears that are commonly magnified by the media like terrorism feature prominently (39 percent). But  the survey also shows a sober understanding of many issues in the public spotlight, experts said.

"The Germans are not a race of scaredy-cats, but show reasonable concern for real events and problems," said Schmidt.

Generally, the public is well attuned to issues and also aware that rising living costs are due to a combination of factors, he added.

"The broad social welfare system and rigorous environmental protection [measures] demand their share of funds and pinch disposable incomes, mainly through social spending and taxes, as well as the rising cost of electricity, gas, water and garbage disposal," he said.

Flooding - but not in my back yard

At 51 percent, fear of natural disasters shared the second slot on the list, down five percent since 2013.

But consequences of extreme weather like storms and flooding that wreaked havoc in Germany in 2013 still seem abstract to many people: Only 19 percent said they feared their homes could directly suffer.

International instability also plays a large part in stoking anxiety. Fear of war and political crises plague every third citizen.

Thirty-five percent of Germans worry the country will get sucked into a military conflict, and 37 percent fear events in Ukraine can trigger an armed conflict between the West and Russia.

Another 44 percent said they were afraid of "tensions caused by foreigners".

Public confidence in politicians remains shaky but is improving. Two years ago, 55 percent thought that most politicians were simply out of their depth. This year, 44 percent thought this, up one point on 2013.

Open hostilities between government and opposition had been tempered by the formation of the grand coalition after last year's general election. This had helped restore some faith in politicians, the researchers speculated.

Story continues below…

"Germans react sensitively to harsh public debates," said Schmidt. "A sharp and polarized party-based conflict creates political and economic anxiety, but muted and mostly internally contained competition [between parties] in the coalition has more of a calming effect."

Unemployment and living cost fears plagued residents of the former DDR more than people from the former West Germany (43 and 30 percent).  

The difference is founded, said Jakli, citing current 9.4 percent unemployment in the east compared to 5.9 percent in the west of the country.

Clued-up kids

Meanwhile, young people showed surprising maturity. Rather than fretting about dates or how to dodge school, 16-year-olds said they were most concerned about the high cost of living.

The issue ranked 15th in 1992 and rose to first place this year.  

Parents also seemed to have greater faith in their offspring making the right calls: Only 32 percent worried about drug addiction affecting their children, placing this 16th on their list of concerns.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

US 'warned Merkel' against Chinese takeover of tech firm
Aixtron HQ. Photo: DPA

The German government withdrew its approval for a Chinese firm to purchase Aixtron, which makes semiconductor equipment, after the US secret services raised security concerns, a German media report said Wednesday.

Long-vanished German car brand joins electric race
Photo: DPA

Cars bearing the stamp of once-defunct manufacturer Borgward will once again roll off an assembly line in north Germany from 2018, the firm said Wednesday.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd