Press Release of 22 March 2017
World Happiness Day: SOEP data show that life satisfaction of Eastern Germans is catching up
People across Germany are happier today than at any other point since German reunification
According to a new analysis of data from the nationally representative, long-term Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study, people in both West and East Germany have been happier on average since 2015 than at any other point since German reunification (Figure 1). The substantial increase in life satisfaction from 1990 levels is primarily the result of the catch-up process in East Germany. Yet even 25 years after reunification, the level of life satisfaction in East Germany is still substantially below that in West Germany (Figure 2).
“Although it’s sobering that there is still a difference between East and West, the gap has diminished significantly over the years and is lower now than ever before,” says SOEP Director Jürgen Schupp, who conducted the analysis.
According to Schupp, one reason for the relatively high level of satisfaction could be that despite the many social and economic challenges Germany has faced, it has overcome numerous crises in recent years. For instance in Germany, unlike many other countries, the financial and economic crisis did not lead to an increase in unemployment or disrupt the momentum of the economy.
German Institute for Economic Research
Founded in 1925, DIW Berlin (the German Institute for Economic Research) is one of the leading economic research institutes in Germany. The Institute analyzes the economic and social aspects of topical issues, formulating and disseminating policy advice based on its research findings. DIW Berlin is part of both the national and international scientific communities, provides research infrastructure to academics all over the world, and promotes the next generation of scientists. A member of the Leibniz Association, DIW Berlin is independent and primarily publicly funded.
The Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study
The Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study is the largest and longest-running multidisciplinary longitudinal study in Germany. The SOEP is located at DIW Berlin and funded by the federal and state governments as part of Germany's research infrastructure under the umbrella of the Leibniz Association (WGL). Since 1984, the survey institute Kantar Public (previously TNS Infratest) has surveyed several thousand individuals annually for SOEP. There are currently around 30,000 respondents in approximately 15,000 households. The SOEP data include information on income, employment, education, health, and life satisfaction. Since the same individuals are surveyed each year, not only is SOEP able to identify long-term social trends but it can also analyze in detail the group-specific development of individuals’ lives.
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Communications Management German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP)
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