Discussion Papers, Forschungszentrum Generationenverträge der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg 50
This paper examines regional differences in subjective well-being (SWB) in Germany. Inferential statistics indicate a diminishing but still significant gap between East andWest Germany, but also differing levels of SWB within both parts of Germany. The observed regional pattern of life satisfaction reflects macroeconomic fundamentals, where labour market conditions play a dominant role. Differing levels of GDP and economic growth have contributed rather indirectly to well-being such that the period since the reunification can be considered as a period of joyless growth. Moreover, the effects of unemployment and income differ in size between regions in such a way that one can assume increasing marginal disutility of unemployment. In total, approximately half of 'satisfaction gap' between East and West Germany can be attributed to differing macroeconomic conditions. In contrast, the comparably high levels of life satisfaction in Northern Germany are driven mostly by couples and go along with significantly higher fertility rates. Overall, I conclude that comparisons of SWB within a single country provide valid information.