Germans not overly worried about coronavirus, survey finds

Germans not overly worried about coronavirus, survey finds

For the past 30 years, an insurance company has been asking Germany about its greatest fears, allowing some clear trends to emerge. Now, a special survey has been conducted to show us how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is impacting people’s usual worries. The results are rather surprising. 

The Fears of the Germans

Given the current global context, you could forgive people for feeling a bit twitchy and uncertain. On the contrary, however, except for a sharp upswing in concern about the economy, people in Germany are currently feeling rather relaxed about their health and their jobs

At least, those are the findings of the latest representative survey by R + V insurance. “They seem amazingly carefree,” says Manfred Schmidt, a political scientist at Heidelberg University. Most respondents are even quite satisfied (at least, by German standards) with the political management of the crisis.  

Schmidt has had his finger on the German fear pulse for the past 15 years, regularly evaluating the results of the R + V survey, “The Fears of the Germans”, which has now been asking Germany what it fears most for almost three decades. Scientists consider it a seismograph for sensitivities related to politics, economy, environment, family, health and private concerns. 

Coronavirus survey shows health concerns are not high

A special survey has just been conducted to assess the impact of the coronavirus crisis on some regular concerns. Between March 31 and April 2, 1.075 people were asked to answer four representative questions about how the ongoing crisis had impacted their fears regarding serious illnesses, the economy, job losses and the work of politicians. The results are intriguing. 

When it comes to one’s own health, the survey results show that people’s concern hasn’t experienced a dramatic upswing, as you might expect. Compared to 2019, the proportion of respondents who fear a serious illness has only increased by a moderate 6 points, to 41 percent. This is the second-lowest value since 1992, with the lowest being recorded last year. 

Concern for the economy sky-high, but not worried about own jobs

Concerns about an economic downturn, on the other hand, have skyrocketed. Compared to 2019, concern has risen by a spectacular 23 percentage points to 58 percent. That is the highest value since the economic crisis 10 years ago, when the value shot to 67 percent. 

Unusually, the fear of an impending economic recession does not seem to have caused people to worry about their own jobs. Just less than a quarter (24 percent) of survey respondents said that they were worried about losing their jobs - the same number as in 2019, and overall fewer than 30 years ago. This probably has a lot to do with the financial assistance measures introduced by the German government

Germans think politicians are handling the crisis well

Traditionally, Germans have been rather merciless when it comes to assessing the performance of their politicians. Over the past 10 years, almost half of those surveyed considered politicians to be overwhelmed by the current situation. During the financial crisis of 2010 the proportion stood at 62 percent, and during the refugee crisis of 2015 / 6 it was as high as 65 percent. 

In comparison, a mere 46 percent now think the politicians are overwhelmed, a relatively mild judgement by German standards and one of the lowest values in the past 10 years. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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