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Pessimistic Germans Losing Faith in Democracy, Study Shows

DW staff (als)
September 17, 2006

A recent report confirms the stereotype of Germany as a nation of pessimists. Increasingly, citizens are discontent with their living standards, and their form of government as well.

Germany: a country where the glass is increasingly half-emptyImage: BilderBox

According to a new report put out by the German Statistics Office, Germans have the most pessimistic view of the future among all Europeans.

The latest census shows that Germans -- especially young people and eastern Germans -- believe living conditions are much worst than they actually are.

The Date Report is released every two years and is a joint study conducted by various research and statistical agencies.

Jürgen Kocka, head of the Social Science Research Center in Berlin, said there is a discrepancy between Germans' subjective view of living conditions and the actual conditions themselves, because Germans tend to set their standards higher than other Europeans. His analysis was reported on the economics internet site Wirtschaftswoche.de.

Arbeitsamt in Berlin, thumbnail
Unemployment is higher in eastern Germany than in the west of the countryImage: AP

The report shows that only 29 percent of Germans feel that their income allows them to live comfortably, Wirtschaftswoche reported. In Denmark, that number is 64 percent; in Sweden, it is 54 percent and in Ireland, it is 50 percent.

Germans less satisfied compared to 2003

And more and more, the report concludes, Germans are disappointed with democracy within the country. This is especially true for those living in eastern Germany.

Last year, only 38 percent of eastern Germans thought democracy was a good form of government, the study said. In 2000, it was 49 percent.

That percentage for Germans in the western part of the country was higher, with 80 percent in 2000 and 71 percent in 2005 believing it was a positive form of government.

The study found three-quarters of eastern Germans find socialism to be a good idea, but acknowledge it was poorly executed in the past. Only 46 percent of western Germans hold this view.

Alternative living arrangements

The traditional nuclear family is continuing its decline in Germany as well, the study showed. More and more young people are growing up in homes with only one parent, or with parents who are not married. In 2005, nearly one-fourth of young people between the ages of 14 and 17 were living in "alternative"-style households.

The Data Report was compiled by German Stastistics Office, the Social Science Research Center (WZB) in Berlin, the Federal Agency for Civic Education in Bonn and the Center for Survey Research and Methodology (ZUMA) in Mannheim. The study combines statistical data and social research.

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