Study: Coronavirus crisis has brought Germany closer together
It’s no exaggeration to say that the last five months have been trying - but it seems that all this uncertainty and concern has actually brought the German population closer together. At least, that’s the finding of a new study by the Bertelsmann Foundation.
Social cohesion grew in Germany during coronavirus crisis
Social cohesion seems to have actually grown in Germany during the coronavirus crisis, even though social differences have also become more apparent. This is the conclusion drawn by a new representative survey conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the research institute Infas. The survey has been examining the perception of social cohesion in Germany since 2012.
For the “Social Cohesion Radar 2020”, 3.010 people aged 16 and over were interviewed between February and March. At the time, 46 percent of survey respondents considered cohesion in Germany to be at risk. When 1.000 individuals were questioned again in May and June - after strict contact restrictions had ended - this proportion had fallen significantly, with just 36 percent saying that social cohesion was endangered.
People looking out for each other more
Although you might expect that social distancing requirements and contact bans would make people feel isolated and inward-looking, the opposite seemed to take place. More people now actually feel that people are looking out for each other.
In February, for example, 41 percent of survey respondents said that citizens did not care about others. By early summer, this had fallen dramatically to just 19 percent. According to study author Kai Unzicker, “In a crisis situation, many have experienced real solidarity in the form of neighbourhood help with shopping or children.”
The pandemic has also served to boost the government’s standing in the eyes of the population, with the majority expressing satisfaction with how German politicians are dealing with the coronavirus crisis. Many said that the pandemic has so far been “mild” in Germany. Trust in the federal government accordingly rose from 19 to 45 percent, while satisfaction with democracy rose from 50 to 60 percent.
Certain groups isolated from solidarity
However, this narrative did not apply to everyone. The study’s authors also note that there are social groups in society who are more concerned and feel less social cohesion. Typically, this includes people without higher education qualifications, economically disadvantaged people, single parents and people with a migration background.
“Someone who is well educated and has a high income has the opportunity to do home office,” said Unzicker. “People with less education and on a lower income, on the other hand, are more likely to be put on reduced working hours (Kurzarbeit) and lose their jobs, and this is where fears rise.”
According to the authors, these different perceptions intensified during the coronavirus crisis. Unsurprisingly, those who experienced a lot of solidarity even before the pandemic are currently more optimistic about the future and feel less lonely.