Less social contact, homeschooling, and dramatically reduced work life: The coronavirus crisis has hampered life satisfaction and happiness of people in Germany.
On a scale from 0 to 10, the respondents rated their contentment on average at 6.74 points, compared to the all-time high of 7.14 in 2019. This came from the new Happiness Index presented on Wednesday in Bonn.
Nevertheless, “We are not in a ball of frustration,” said Bernd Raffelhüschen, Professor of public finance at the University of Freiburg, who created the tenth happiness index for the Deutsche Post.
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Despite the pandemic the slump was relatively moderate, as the general level of happiness is still “in the upper middle field” of the scale.
The Institute for Public Opinion Research in Allensbach asked a small group of 4,700 residents age 16 and up from March until June during the first lockdown.
Further data came from a long-term study from the German Institute for Economic Research (Ipso) as well as an Ipso's survey from June 2020.
According to the Happiness Index, men lost less contentment (minus 0.33 points) than women, who on average went down almost half a point, at 0.47 points.
The primary reason for this is that women were often strained on the front lines of the crisis, as mothers had to bear the heavy load of childcare and homeschooling. In addition, the life satisfaction of respondents from families with three or more children dropped at a rate above average, minus 0.9 points.
Broken down into age groups, those between 45 and 59 years old lost the most contentment, as their rates dropped by 0.48 points.
According to the researchers, this age group is under particular economic stress. They often have more loans to pay off, older children to financially support, and must also make provisions for retirement.
Declining regional differences
According to the report, the differences among regions have shrunk. The happiness of people in West Germany sank by 0,42 points, thus more than in East Germany (which dropped 0.3 points).
“The coronavirus crisis is hitting the West harder, with higher infection rates coupled with more severe economic upheavals,” reported the researchers. The influence of the pandemic has almost equalized overall life satisfaction levels. Last year, the difference among regions was rather small.
The happiest people live in the north: those living in Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg score 6.92 points on the scale, respectively. Thuringia comes at the bottom of the list at 6.50 points, and is the only east German state that has experienced a marked decrease in life satisfaction rates.
Objective reasons are not readily apparent, relayed Raffelhüschen. In any case, regional comparisons have rather limited informative values, due to smaller sample sizes and an adapted methodology.