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Germany's Culture of Complaint

Happiness and IntelligenceRecently the Atlantic Review wrote about statistics on happiness in the US and in European countries.
J. Carter Wood, a historian, writer and self-described malcontent, has covered this topic in his blog Obscene Desserts last year. The graphic and the following quote are from his interesting blog post:
Despite living in a society which is highly prosperous and well-ordered, with relatively little crime, corruption, poverty or inequality, most Germans seem to think their nation is in a state of advanced collapse. (One should not, of course, overlook the real problems facing Germany, high structural unemployment being one of them. But, really, for all their problems, they're managing to maintain a civilised and decent society. Try to imagine the United States after a decade of 10 percent or more unemployment...)
Of course, there is a certain joy in complaining, so all that grumbling may be producing its own kind of serotonin rush. After all, in complaining, we establish the claim that we know what's going on (even if it's going wrong) and therefore establish an image of ourselves as alert and knowledgeable. Such status gains are a surefire ingredient in personal happiness. Furthermore, complaining amidst a group of like-minded gripers also forges a sense of togetherness and community. Now that I think about it, could it be that this culture of complaint brings us closer to what might be a little known German success story?

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Don S on :

"Try to imagine the United States after a decade of 10 percent or more unemployment" It's not hard - try 1981. Not 10% unemployment for the whole time - but hard times from 1973 onward with little respite. Didn't you say somewhere that normalized data shows a lower German unemployment figure, Joerg? So perhaps the situations weren't all that different after all. And yet - I think the US managed to "maintain a civilised and decent society" during those years - years in which Germany was doing much better than the US was.

Don S on :

"Now that I think about it, could it be that this culture of complaint brings us closer to what might be a little known German success story" Germans: Thw world's best gripers, moaners, kvetchers, etc. ;)

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