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Germany

Satisfied to be German

The votes are tallied in Germany’s largest-ever online survey: Germans are more content and willing to take financial risks than previously assumed.

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A new survey shows Germans are content, but differences still exist between East and West

Over half of all Germans are in favor of the current political, social and economic situation in their land. 65 percent of them say they "can live well in a country like Germany" despite the current economic difficulties and rising unemployment rate.

These are some of the conclusions from an online survey called "Germany's Perspectives", answered by nearly 170,000 people.

Spanning a period of three months from October to December 2001, the survey was designed to get a good spectrum of German society. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 59 and came from all geographical regions.

The survey covered a broad range of topics from jobs to family, social security to welfare, education and research. The prime focus however was economic confidence. In other words: are Germans gearing up for progress or resignation?

Positive picture

Released today, the results of Germany’s largest-ever online poll give a surprisingly positive picture of the country, said the survey's organizers at McKinsey Consulting.

Especially in terms of reform-mindedness and financial responsibility, Germans showed they were willing to do more to maintain their status quo.

Every ninth German surveyed said he or she would be prepared to start up an independent business. That’s a doubling of the current number of new entrepreneurs, says McKinsey manager Jürgen Kluge. Such an increase would bring in new and much needed impulses on the job market.

Unfortunately, many of the would-be new businesses are hindered by looming bureaucratic paper work and regulations. Germans just aren’t starting up new companies, because they don’t want the extra hassle of dealing with the administrative authorities, says Kluge.

Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed, said they would be willing to take on more of the responsibility for their social security. At the same time, many of them admitted to being uncertain about what financial options were available to them.

In terms of financing a university education, 70 percent of the survey participants said they would pay for at least part of their tuition fees. Currently, students are only required to pay a minimal fee of about €100 ($88) per semester.

Of mothers with children under the age of five, 86 percent said they would go back to work if they had affordable childcare.

Mixed picture

When it came to the state’s responsibilities, the survey participants were considerably more negative. Germans still said they see the government as playing an important role in insuring a good standard of living for its citizens. This was especially true for the job market.

70 percent of Germans said the federal government needed to do more to improve the employment situation, to increase jobs, and prevent people from losing their current jobs. Only 7 percent of those surveyed said the current government was doing a good job at this.

The state should also do more to establish good and affordable childcare, improve the education standards in schools and protect the seniors’ pension funds from declining, a majority of the participants said.

Regional differences

In general, the survey detected strong regional differences. Germans in the western part of the country were more content with the status quo than those in the eastern states.

Bavaria received the highest ratings. 82 percent of the participants residing in the southern state said they were satisfied with their economic and social situation. Munich, Bavaria’s capital city, was also voted most livable large city in Germany.

The most dissatisfied of all Germans surveyed were those living in Saxony-Anhalt in the country’s east. Less than a third of the survey’s participants said they could live well in the region.

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