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Two in three Germans say they're happy

March 19, 2019

Wunderbar! That's how a majority of Germans personally feel, according to a new survey. Many respondents said, however, that they think the nation as a whole is unhappy.

A happy Bavarian couple
Image: picture-alliance/blickwinkel/McPhoto/M. Begsteige

Despite the reputation Germans have for seriousness and angst, a new study has found that 66 percent of Germans are happy with their lives.

When asked what was important for a happy life, 51 percent of respondents told YouGov, a polling firm, that good health was one of their top three fulfillment factors.

A good relationship with a partner came next at 32 percent, followed by having enough money at 25 percent.

Read more: Why do we feel good when we help others?

Living in a nice home was also seen as important by more than a fifth of those who took part, with a similar number simply agreeing on the importance of "fun and joy" in everyday life.

Barriers to happiness 'not surprising'

While many Germans said they were fulfilled, some 27 percent of respondents admitted they were currently unhappy.

Just under a fifth of those surveyed thought the greatest hindrances to a happy life were poor health and not having enough money. Lack of a good relationship came next (8 percent), followed by a general absence of fun and joy in life (5 percent).

"Even if a majority of Germans are happy, one in four Germans describe themselves as being unhappy," said Philipp Schneider, head of marketing for YouGov Germany. "The greatest barriers to happiness, meanwhile, are not surprising."

While many Germans said they were personally happy, even more (71 percent) believed their family, friends and work colleagues to be happier still.

However, the story was reversed when they were asked about the German population in general. Less than half thought their compatriots were, on the whole, happy.

Values vary with background

According to the marketing and social research group Sinus, which was also involved in the study, an individual's social grouping was an important indicator of how happy they were likely to be. People from more socially privileged, less traditional backgrounds were deemed more likely to be happy.

Read more: A look at what makes Germans happy

Why music makes people happy

Meanwhile, the emphasis that people from different groups placed on different factors also varied significantly.

"For the so-called modern mainstream, for example, the family and a reliable and harmonious social environment are the key to happiness," said Sinus managing director Manfred Tautscher. "For the cosmopolitan avant-garde, on the other hand, happiness means being able to live an intense and unconventional life."

A total of 2026 adults were questioned earlier this month for the poll, released a day ahead of the United Nations International Day of Happiness.

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Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.