Majority of Germans ‘very afraid’ of post-Covid tax hikes

Majority of Germans 'very afraid' of post-Covid tax hikes
With national debt rising to record levels, Germans say they are terrified of facing future tax hikes and inflation. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez
The high national debt in the coronavirus pandemic - and its impact on people's bank balances - has become the number one concern for Germans in 2021.

That’s according to a recent study titled ‘Fears of the Germans’, which was published on Thursday and conducted on behalf of insurance firm R+V.

In it, 53 percent of 2,400 respondents named fear of higher taxes or benefit cuts because of Covid as one of their main concerns.

A fear of rising inflation took second place, with 50 percent saying they were afraid of an increase in their living costs. Just as many mentioned the cost of EU debt, which took third place in the survey.

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Over the course of the Covid crisis, public debt grew by 14.4 percent – or €273.8 billion – to a record level in 2020, according to the Federal Statistical Office. As a result of the measures introduced to combat Covid, inflation also soared to 3.9 percent in August, the highest level in many years.

READ ALSO: German consumer prices rise by highest level in three decades on back of pandemic measures

This means that Germans are facing an increase in the price of everyday necessities – and lots of people are dealing with a loss of earnings due to the pandemic. 

Last year former US President Donald Trump took the top spot for the second year running as the greatest source of German angst in the insurance firm’s ranking. 

Refugees trump climate change as key concern

In the annual survey, participants are asked to rate given topics on a scale from one (no fear at all) to seven (very great fear).

Alongside economic issues, the fear that the state could be overburdened by refugees came in fourth place as 45 percent of respondents named this as a concern.

READ ALSO: Germany takes in close to 50,000 refugees in first half of 2021

Meanwhile, 43 percent are worried about harmful substances in food, and the same number are worried about care in old age. Seventh place is taken by concerns about “tensions caused by the influx of foreigners,” which was mentioned by 42 percent of respondents.

The election campaign’s top issue – climate change – only came in eighth place in the annual survey, with 41 percent of respondents saying they were very afraid of more frequent natural disasters and extreme weather events. However, according to R+V, the survey took place before the flood disaster in western Germany.

Climate activists from Greenpeace protest outside Germany’s annual IAA motor show in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

In order to get a more updated picture of this, another 1,000 people were surveyed online at the end of July – and interviewers noted a drastic change. 

READ ALSO: Climate change made German floods ‘more likely and more intense’

In the supplementary survey, 69 percent expressed fear of natural disasters and extreme weather, while 61 percent were concerned that climate change would have dramatic consequences for mankind. These are record figures in its 30 years of surveys, R+V explained.

According to the insurance firm, around 2,400 representatively selected people aged 14 and over were surveyed from May 25th to July 4th on their views – with the exception of the additional survey in late July to determine views on climate change after the flood.


Tax increases/hikes – (die) Steuererhöhungen

Living costs – (die) Lebenshaltungskosten

National/public debt – die (Staatsverschuldung)

The top issue of the election campaign – Das Wahlkampf-Topthema

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