Document Actions

You are here: Home Newsroom Press Releases 2022 Germany’s happiness level has …

Germany’s happiness level has risen slightly

Bernd Raffelhüschen from the University of Freiburg presents the “SKL Glücksatlas 2022” (“SKL Happiness Atlas 2022”)

Freiburg, Nov 08, 2022

Life satisfaction in Germany has increased only slightly after last year’s Corona-related low, and new crises are putting the brakes on the recovery. The happiness gap between East and West Germany is widening again. While women and families are improving their life satisfaction, young people still have major difficulties. The results of the “SKL Glücksatlas 2022” (“SKL Happiness Atlas”) under the scientific direction of Prof. Dr. Bernd Raffelhüschen, Professor of Finance and Director of the Research Center on Intergenerational Contracts at the University of Freiburg, reveal this trend.

After most Corona measures ended in the spring, the happiness level in Germany recovered slightly in 2022. For example, life satisfaction currently stands at 6.86 points, up 0.28 points from its 2021 low (6.58 points). However, it is still 0.28 points away from the pre-Corona 2019 level (7.14 points). “We’ve hit rock bottom,” Raffelhüschen says, “but the halfway mark is still ahead of us.”

Family life satisfaction on the rise again

Many population groups that had suffered particularly badly from the Corona measures were able to improve their life satisfaction again in 2022. Women narrowed the 0.19-point happiness gap with men that opened up during Corona to 0.06 points, nearly closing it again. Families raised their satisfaction with family life to 7.42 points in 2022, after falling to 7.17 points in 2021. However, there is still a long way to go before reaching the pre-Corona score of 8.0 (2019). The young have recovered the least. Generation Z (born 1995 to 2010) lost 1.0 points in life satisfaction during Corona. To return to the old happiness level, they still have to make up 0.52 points. In contrast, older people (1945 plus) only have to make up 0.19 points to the old level.

New crises are slowing down the recovery. In September, inflation broke through the ten percent mark. If it remains at this level until December 2022, the total loss in life happiness due to inflation is likely to amount to 0.46 points - that's a lot. It also has a negative impact on income satisfaction: It fell by 0.29 points in 2022 alone and currently stands at just 6.49 points. In 2019, it was still at 7.18 points on the scale of 0 to 10.

Western German states have recovered faster

Western German states are recovering from the pandemic faster than eastern German states, which is why the gap between western Germany (6.91 points) and eastern Germany (6.67 points) has currently risen again to 0.24 points. During the pandemic, it had almost disappeared in 2020 with only 0.05 points. The disadvantages that western Germany had during the pandemic no longer play a role in 2022: high proportions of younger people, of families, of big city dwellers and the self-employed are normally guarantors of a region's higher happiness level. In the pandemic, however, it was precisely these groups that lost an above-average amount of life satisfaction. This mainly affected western German states. When the lockdown restrictions were lifted in 2022, satisfaction in western Germany recovered correspondingly more strongly in 2022.

In 2022, the dissolution of the former strict division into western German states at the front and eastern German states at the back of the regional rankings continues. Brandenburg (5th place) is an eastern German state in the top third. Saarland (15th place), a western German state, occupies second to last place.

Happiness ranking by region

In 2022, the happiest Germans once again live in Schleswig-Holstein, which takes first place with 7.14 points. In the pandemic, the state had slipped to 6.78 points. In the previous year, Saxony-Anhalt had also landed in first place alongside Schleswig-Holstein. The eastern German state held up well in 2022, coming in ninth. Second place in 2022 goes to Bavaria, where life satisfaction rose 0.29 points year-on-year to a current 7.06 points. North Rhine-Westphalia (6.98 points) is the rising star of the year, coming in third place, closely followed by Hamburg, which has a harder time recovering. Brandenburg (6.87) is in fifth place, only one rank worse than last year. It is the best-placed eastern German state.

The median rankings are Hesse (6.82), Lower Saxony (6.80), Baden-Württemberg (6.80) and Saxony-Anhalt (6.79), all very close together in terms of score. Saxony (6.68) comes in tenth place, followed by Rhineland-Palatinate (6.65) and Bremen (6.58), which has improved by three ranks to twelfth place compared with the previous year. Bringing up the rear are Thuringia (6.54) in thirteenth place, Berlin (6.53), Saarland (6.49) and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (6.35), which is the only German state to perform worse in 2022 than in the previous year (6.60), when it was still in tenth place.

Representative respondents

The data for the SKL Happiness Atlas 2022 comes from a total of eleven surveys conducted by the Allensbach Institute (IfD) from January to October 2022 (at least every four weeks) . The survey is based on a total of 11,450 representative respondents aged 16 and over in the form of oral personal interviews that recorded the general life satisfaction of Germans. To record satisfaction with the areas of work, income, family and health, a total of 3,170 citizens aged 16 and over were surveyed by IfD Allensbach from May to July 2022 on a representative basis in the form of oral personal interviews. In addition, the Berlin-based opinion research institute Ipsos asked a total of 2,000 Germans between the ages of 18 and 65 via a representative computer-assisted online survey about the impact of inflation and the Ukraine war on life satisfaction.

The SKL Glücksatlas 2022 has been published as a book by Penguin Verlag and is now available in stores. Further information:


Timon Renz, M.Sc.
Institute of Public Finance and Social Policy
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-5480

Prof. Dr. Bernd Raffelhüschen
Institute of Public Finance and Social Policy
University of Freiburg
Tel.: 0761/203-2353