Here's where Germany's happiest (and unhappiest) people live

Here's where Germany's happiest (and unhappiest) people live

The results of Germany’s latest “happiness atlas” (Glücksatlas) are in, and once again it seems that northern Germany is where the happy people are at. While the coronavirus crisis has, unsurprisingly, caused a slight dip in overall happiness levels, the survey shows that life satisfaction is still high in the federal republic. 

People in Germany only slightly less happy than last year

It takes more than a global pandemic to get the Germans down. When asked to rate their personal happiness on a scale of zero to 10, the survey’s respondents gave themselves an average score of 6,74 - which is just slightly down from 2019’s all-time high of 7,14. In 2020, four out of five people said that they are happy to live in a country like Germany at this time.

These results come from the Glücksatlas 2020, an annual survey presented by Deutsche Post that is now in its 10th year. The German postal service worked together with the Allensbach Institute for Demoscopy to produce a representative survey of 4.660 participants aged 16 and over. The interviews took place between March and June this year - right in the middle of the first peak of the pandemic. 

The happiest regions in Germany

When it comes to the question of the happiest regions in Germany, the results are pretty similar to last year. Northern Germany once again comes out on top and, with overall happiness values of 6,92, Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg share first place for the happiest places in Germany. Schleswig-Holstein has occupied the top spot every year since 2013. These two super-happy federal states are followed by Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria.

There were a few mix-ups in this year’s order: Saxony-Anhalt took sixth place, making it the first time an eastern federal state has ranked ahead of a western federal state. And Hesse - last year’s second-happiest region - slipped all the way down to 12th place. It was followed by Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. Thuringia was rated by its own inhabitants as the unhappiest place in Germany. 

Interestingly, the survey data showed that the so-called “happiness gap” between eastern and western Germany has, for the first time ever, almost disappeared. This is because happiness fell more sharply in western Germany (which typically returns higher happiness scores) than in eastern Germany. In 2020, satisfaction in the west dropped by 0,4 points, compared to 0,3 points in the east, narrowing the gap to 0,05 points; in 2019, it was 0,17. 

Coronavirus negatively impacts happiness in Germany

“Overall, corona has left its mark on Germans in terms of personal happiness,” said Thomas Ogilvie, Deutsche Post’s HR director. However, in view of the significant restrictions people have had to face in their social, economic and private lives this year, he feels that the decrease in happiness is actually remarkably modest.

“The results also show that the crisis has had no negative impact on family satisfaction,” Ogilvie said. Accordingly, 83 percent of respondents said that the pandemic has shown them how important family and friends are. 

However, the negative effects of the pandemic are also palpable. Around a third of survey respondents said they were experiencing problems. For instance, being put on Kurzarbeit or having to work from home was leading to lower job satisfaction for 32 percent of those surveyed. This effect is even more pronounced in women than men. 

Despite these issues, however, the future still seems bright: The majority of respondents also said that they expect their life satisfaction to improve over the next year. 



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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