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

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Abstract

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.

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