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How are the Germans doing?

RTL/ntv survey on mood
How are the Germans doing?

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RTL and ntv have put their ear to the chests of German citizens. And as is often the case – it's complicated. The mood has worsened. The quality of life for most people is not. They see the future as rather bleak and there are plenty of reasons to be upset. Nevertheless, the majority enjoy living here.

The mood of Germans has deteriorated in recent years. In a Forsa survey for ntv and RTL, two out of three respondents (64 percent) said that they had noticed this in their environment. A good one in four could not detect a change in mood. Despite the perceived deterioration in mood around them, almost two thirds (63 percent) of those surveyed rated their personal quality of life as at least unchanged. At the same time, however, a majority are concerned about what they believe will be the standard of living for younger people.

The mood deteriorated particularly badly in the East. Here, 70 percent reported less confidence. In addition, supporters of the FDP (85 percent), AfD (84 percent) and Union (60 percent) in particular stated that the mood in their environment – i.e. among family members, friends or work colleagues – had worsened over the past five years. This period includes the war in Ukraine, but even more so the corona pandemic. Supporters of right-wing populists and liberals in particular massively criticized many of the government measures to combat the pandemic. Meanwhile, SPD and Green Party supporters said more often than average that the mood in their environment had improved. A total of eight percent of all respondents across party lines said this.

Will you have a better time? Rather not.

Despite the deterioration in mood, only a good third (36 percent) said that their individual quality of life had worsened in the past five years. 40 percent said that nothing had changed, and 23 percent even reported an improvement. Here too, respondents in the east (42 percent) in particular stated that their situation had worsened since 2018. Two thirds (65 percent) of AfD supporters also agreed with this.

Not surprisingly, more than half (51 percent) of those whose net household income is less than 2,500 euros per month stated that their quality of life had deteriorated. In the next highest income range up to 4000, 39 percent said this. Of those who have at least 4,000 euros net per month, three out of four respondents said that their quality of life was at least unchanged compared to the situation five years ago. The extent to which the respondents are able to cope with high inflation and thus the increased cost of living will certainly play a role here.

Meanwhile, Germans are much more pessimistic about the standard of living that they believe younger people can expect. Seven out of ten respondents (71 percent) assume that younger people will have a poorer standard of living later on. Only a good fifth assume that there will be no major changes, only one in twenty (5 percent) believe there will be an improvement. It is noteworthy that the group of 18 to 29 year olds is still the most optimistic on this question: 46 percent assume that the standard of living of the younger generation – and therefore presumably their own – will not be worse than that of the younger generation most people in the country. In each of the following age groups, a good three out of four respondents (73 to 76 percent) assume that future generations will not have the same standard of living as them.

Younger people are mostly annoyed about the train

Meanwhile, the answers to questions about the availability of doctor's appointments, satisfaction with public transport and information on individual annoyances provide at least some information about the specific reasons for the survey results. 40 percent believe that they have been annoyed about the train or other public transport in the past few months. For 30 percent, contacts with offices or authorities were unpleasant. One in four (25 percent) returned from a visit to the doctor dissatisfied. Here, 49 percent also stated that they had recently waited longer for an appointment, while 46 percent said nothing had changed in this regard.

At least 14 percent said they were annoyed with daycare or school. The biggest difference between East and West is the issue of public transport: While 42 percent in the West were annoyed about buses and trains, this was only the case for 23 percent in the East. In addition, women were significantly more likely to be annoyed by contact with doctors (31 percent) than men (18 percent).

Broken down by age group, the topic of trains is a nuisance for 69 percent of 18 to 29 year olds. In addition, more than a third (36 percent) of them said they had been annoyed with doctors in the past few months. Meanwhile, 45- to 59-year-olds and those over 60 demonstrated remarkable equanimity and resilience. Of them, 30 and 41 percent said that in the past few months they had not been annoyed with the train, authorities or doctors, or with schools, the police or pharmacies.

In the end, despite all the deterioration in mood and personal annoyances in everyday life, a majority of 78 percent say that they enjoy living in Germany. Only one in five (19 percent) would prefer another country – in the east, one in four (25 percent) would prefer to live outside the country's borders. Incidentally, dissatisfaction is highest among AfD party members. Only just under half (49 percent) like living in Germany – and almost as many (46 percent) would prefer to leave the country.

Forsa surveyed 1,003 German citizens for the survey on September 25th and 26th. The margin of error is three points in either direction.

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