Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
The results of the latest survey known as “Glücksatlas” (Atlas of Happiness), published by the Deutsche Post – whose rapidly weltering quality of service is, not without a touch of irony, known to contribute to the general feeling of discontent among Berliners – are no good news for Berlin: in the past 12 months the capital city and the federal state in one seems to have sunk slightly deeper in despair.
The survey performed in 19 regions of Germany (it actually split some federal states into smaller areas, whose level of happiness seems to differ depending on where one asks) saw Berlin lose two points and slide down from No. 14 in 2015 to No. 16 in 2016.
Only three other regions lag behind the capital as far as discontent goes: Brandenburg, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklemburg-Vorpommern. Some experts seem to be surprised at the fact, however, that two other regions, which like all the above used to be part of the former East Germany – whose regions traditionally have fewer reasons to be merry than the West – managed to leave Berlin behind. Thuringia and Saxony are now ahead of the capital.
The results of the survey would suggest that Berlin´s three main problems are: money, health and personal life. Those living in the city are likely to confirm that the diagnosis might be right: we might not be aware of the fact Berlin lags a whole EUR 2,500 behind the median annual income in Germany (which is EUR 18,594) but we all see how difficult it is to a. find a job, b. find a PAID job and c. keep this job beyond this one project/semester/Frist (appropriated time-limit). And if, on top of that, your rent gobbles down 45% of that income (only Hamburg with 48% takes more), then it is a small wonder that most Berliners do not get even more melancholic than they already are.
To move on, here are some facts about Berlin and its health: only 25.7% of all North Rhein – Düsseldorf stand between Berlin and the very end of the rickety peloton. Over one-quarter of all residents of the North Rhein – Westfalian capital and the region around it suffer from some kind of health problems with negative influence on their daily lives. In Berlin it is 23% of all residents. A place with nearly a quarter of residents ill in one way or another is hardly a happy place, in Germany or beyond.
And last but not least: our nearest and dearest. Residents of all regions quoted “family and long-term relationships” as crucial for one´s happiness. And here´s where Berlin is bound to lose: in this city, so attractive to tourists that it can easily hold its own against others (it scored 8.8 against the German median of 5.4), only 62.4% of all residents are married or live in one household with their common law spouses. That leaves Berlin with almost 40% singles. Considering that the city is particularly attractive to students and start-up wizards as well as people focused on their career and/or consciously choosing not to start a family of their own, this percentage still paints a pretty sad picture. Berliners are lonely. And lonely people are rarely the happy ones.
If you are interested in delving into the survey results yourselves to find out more about the State of the Nation as far as its Happiness goes, please click the image below. In the meantime, I shall continue with my un-paid job until it is time to get up from my rented desk and minding my dodgy knee as well as fighting the onset of autumn melancholia, I will cycle through this wonderful mad city to pick up my kids from school. As the former Governing Mayor, Klaus Wowereit famously said: “Berlin ist arm aber sexy”. “Und das ist auch gut so!”:-)