Germans' Life Ratings Decline Slightly Amid Eurozone Crisis

Germans' Life Ratings Decline Slightly Amid Eurozone Crisis

by Nicolas Scharioth

Suffering, anger, stress, and sadness tick up in the fourth quarter of 2011

BERLIN -- The 4 in 10 Germans who rated their lives highly enough to be considered "thriving" throughout 2011 was lower than in 2010. In addition, the percentage of Germans who are "suffering" ticked up slightly in the fourth quarter of 2011, amid escalating economic turmoil in the eurozone.

Life Evaluation in Germany Since 2005

The percent thriving also declined in 2011 in the United States -- another country still grappling with a sluggish economy, but experiencing some positive economic growth.

Despite the uptick in suffering toward the end of the year, the percentage of Germans who are suffering remains far lower than what Gallup finds in other European nations affected by the financial crisis, including Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Latvia, and Portugal. Gallup data also find Germans reporting the best job market in the EU, which is likely contributing to Germany's relatively lower suffering rate.

Gallup surveys Germans at least once per year and Gallup and Healthways have been tracking Germans' wellbeing monthly as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index since March 2011.

Gallup classifies respondents as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. Respondents are considered thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and expectations for their lives in five years an 8 or higher. Those who rate their current or future lives a 4 or lower are classified as suffering. All others are considered struggling.

Emotional Health Falters at End of 2011

Germans' daily emotional wellbeing worsened slightly at the end of 2011. The percentage of Germans who said they experienced happiness and enjoyment "yesterday" declined in the fourth quarter of 2011, while reports of anger, stress, and sadness increased. The decline in positive emotions and increase in negative emotions in the fourth quarter of 2011 may be at least partly attributable to recurring seasonal effects.

Still, the large majority of Germans reported experiencing happiness and enjoyment throughout 2011.

Emotional Health in Germany


Germans' wellbeing decreased slightly in 2011, in spite of the country's strong economic growth of 3%. The good news though is that Germans' wellbeing is still higher than it was before the start of the financial crisis in 2008. This may be because Germany's export-oriented economy bounced back quickly from the deep recession in 2009, with Germans largely optimistic about the job climate.

Leaders in Germany should take note of the decrease in Germans' wellbeing. Also, fewer Germans are "thriving" than "struggling," and the percentage "suffering" is slightly higher than in other developed nations. Additionally, suffering increased slightly in Germany in the last quarter of 2011.

These fluctuations in wellbeing over time underscore the need to closely track such metrics on a frequent basis in order to monitor how citizens are faring in light of ongoing economic events. German leaders recognize this as the special parliamentary Enquete Commission on "Growth, Wealth and Quality of Life," which the German Bundestag set up in 2010, is actively searching for measures of a society's wellbeing that can complement more traditional indicators such as GDP.

View all Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index questions and methodology.

About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks wellbeing in the U.S., U.K., and Germany and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit

Survey Methods

Results for 2011 are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey from March 7-Dec. 31, 2011, with a random monthly sample of approximately 950 adults, aged 18 and older, living in Germany, selected using random-digit-dial sampling. The total sample for March to December was 9,447 adults. The data were summarized by quarter with each quarter's sample reaching about 2,850 respondents. The first quarter of 2011 is based on data collected in March.

Data for 2005 to 2010 was taken from the Gallup World Poll and adjusted to reflect the population aged 18 and older to be able to compare to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The Gallup World Poll surveys approximately 1,000 respondents yearly in selected countries worldwide aged 15 and older.

For results based on a sample of approximately 1,000 adults (World Poll figures from 2005 onwards as well as the first quarter of 2011), one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error in Germany is ±3.7 percentage points. For quarter-on-quarter changes with a sample size of 2,850 respondents the margin of error is ±2.6 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones. Samples are weighted by gender, age, education, region, adults in the household, and cell phone status. Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recently published population data from the German Statistics Office. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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