Despite illness, lockdowns and insecurity: the well-being of Germans remained at a high level during the pandemic years. On the occasion of World Happiness Day, economists at the German Economic Institute (IW) evaluated data from the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Result: 30 percent of Germans were even happier in the second year of the pandemic than in 2020.
In the Corona years, one bad news followed the next. Happy days seemed few and far between. However, this had surprisingly little effect on the well-being of the Germans: the emotional state of more than half of them remained unchanged. A good 30 percent were even happier, and around 19 percent said they were less happy. In particular, people who were never or rarely happy in 2020 were happier a year later.
In 2020, more than 62 percent of Germans stated that they were often or very often happy. Although this value fell in 2021, at 53 percent more than half still described themselves as happy. The percentage of those who are sometimes lucky increased by almost 8 percent to around 32 percent. Migration to the ‘sometimes’ category comes from both the previously fortunate and the previously unfortunate. The percentage of those who were rarely lucky increased only slightly, from 11.6 to 12 percent. And even in 2021, at 2.8 percent, only a fraction of those surveyed were never happy, in 2020 it was 1.8 percent.
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After blows of fate, the level of happiness usually decreases in the short to medium term
The results are confirmed by the previous findings of happiness research. Although happiness levels usually plummet after a severe crisis, happiness levels recover to pre-crisis levels within five years. “After three years of the pandemic, life satisfaction and happiness among Germans are increasing again!” says IW behavioral economist Julia Hensen. It remains to be seen whether the upward trend will also continue in the still outstanding evaluations of the survey for the last SOEP. The current data on life satisfaction, on the other hand, already show that the current crises and inflation are somewhat dampening the upward trend in happiness.
“Politics must ensure political stability and democracy and keep unemployment at a low level. These are the factors that contribute to the general increase in happiness,” says Julia Hensen. “But everyone can take their luck into their own hands. Health, partnership, an intact social environment and regular sport contribute to increasing happiness”.
You can read more about this topic in the book “Happiness for everyone?: An interdisciplinary assessment of life satisfaction.”