‘How Happy are You ...?’ Subjective Well-Being in East Germany Twenty Years after Unification



Since the unification of Germany in 1990, East Germans have largely approximated the characteristics of the ‘happiness profile’– but not the overall levels of happiness – of West Germans. Current patterns of subjective well-being among East Germans raise concerns about the contingency of identification with the democratic system of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG); the further entrenchment of financial jealousies between East and West Germany; and the development of a ‘happiness gap’ between the richest and poorest in East German society. A ‘materialist pessimist’ outlook in both West and East Germany may best be explained by cultural factors.