Which country are you scared of?
Graphics: An overview of the fears figures
America first: The policy of the US President Donald Trump worries the Germans far more than a serious illness or an infection with the corona virus - in East and West, in men and women.
Fear of Corona: Differences in Age Groups
Despite Corona, the fear of a serious illness is rather low at 32 percent. Does that also apply to Covid-19? The R + V Infocenter asked. With the same result: only around one in three respondents fears that they or their family and friends will be infected with the virus. However, differences can be seen in the age groups: While the fear of an illness mainly worries the citizens of the age group 60+, Corona also depresses the younger ones.
The ten biggest fears of 2020
Donald Trump's politics and economic worries are the top topics for Germans in 2020. Most respondents fear that the US President's policies are making the world more dangerous. This is the second time since 2018 that this fear is number one in the study. Only economic worries follow in second to fourth place. In the Corona crisis, around every second respondent fears that the cost of living will rise and that taxpayers will be asked to pay for the EU debt crisis. Fear of a downturn in the economy jumps from 14th place in the previous year to fourth place. During the Corona crisis, the R + V Infocenter asked for the first time whether Germans feared that globalization would lead to more frequent pandemics. The topic that dominates the news every day only lands in ninth place.
Top 10 - changes compared to the previous year
Domestic political concerns - always at the top in recent years - have consistently lost their importance. The fears surrounding immigration have fallen the most: after a decline of more than ten percentage points, they have reached their lowest level in five years. Economic fears have skyrocketed.
Ranking 2020 - places 11 to 22
Three issues concern 40 percent of the respondents: climate change, excessive demands on politicians and rising unemployment figures in Germany. Fears of political extremism and terrorist attacks have slipped below the 40 percent mark. Amazing: only 32 percent of Germans are afraid of serious illness and infection with the corona virus. And: Despite the forced closeness due to exit restrictions and home office, only one in ten respondents fears that their partnership will break up (previous year: 18 percent).
Places 11 to 22 - changes compared to the previous year
Many fears are decreasing in this exceptional year - terror and extremism in particular are less terrifying than in previous years. On the other hand, short-time work and the threat of bankruptcies in badly ailing industries are driving fears of rising unemployment figures in Germany high.
The fear index: average of all fears
Fewer worries despite the exceptional situation: The fear index - the average of all the fears surveyed - drops to 37 percent, the lowest value since the start of the study.
The top fears from 2006 to 2020
The cycles of greatest fears: At the beginning of the millennium, Germans were primarily depressed by economic worries - the fear of rising costs of living reached peak values. When everyone was talking about the rescue packages for over-indebted EU countries in 2011, the fear that the euro debt crisis would be expensive for German taxpayers came to the fore. The fear of terrorism increased enormously under the impression of the attacks by the IS terrorist militia. She was number one on the fear scale for two years. In 2020, for the second time after 2018, fear of the consequences of Trump's policy will move to first place. However, it is significantly lower today than it was two years ago.
Again greater fear of rising prices
The corona crisis is fueling fear of rising cost of living in 2020 - it lands in second place in the current study. It is increasing again for the first time in five years. No comparison to the record in 2008: At that time, high energy costs and food prices stirred emotions like never before, so this concern drove three quarters of Germans. Today it is around every second.
Euro debt crisis is moving more into focus
In recent years, the high debts of some EU countries have kept Germans busy. In 2020, the influence of the Corona crisis on economic fears becomes apparent: Almost every second respondent fears that the EU debt crisis will cost German taxpayers dearly. A significant increase compared to the previous year - the topic is becoming more and more popular.
Germans fear a slump in the economy
The corona crisis has a massive impact on economic fears: 48 percent of those surveyed are concerned about economic development. The cause is the restrictions during the pandemic and its negative impact on the economy. The fear is heightened by the risk of a second corona wave, which could result in an even deeper economic slump. Nevertheless, significantly more Germans trust in economic strength than, for example, from 2009 during the euro crisis or when there were massive job cuts at large corporations in 2004/2005. At that time, up to 70 percent feared a slump in the economy.
Worrying view of the environment
Environmental and climate policy issues have traditionally been of great concern to Germans - long before the Fridays for Future protest movement. The values are consistently above the 40 percent threshold. In 2020, 40 percent of those surveyed are afraid that climate change will have dramatic consequences for humanity. 44 percent fear that natural disasters will increase and that Germany will be hit more and more frequently by extreme weather conditions such as drought, heat waves or heavy rain.
Fear of conflict from immigration
Fear of conflict and social tensions due to immigration play a role for fewer people than in previous years. Fears of excessive demands on the state due to the large number of refugees and of possible tensions due to the further influx of foreigners are at their lowest level since 2015.
The Germans and their politicians
Traditionally, Germans have little confidence in politicians. These concerns have never been as low as in 2020 in this millennium: Only 40 percent of those questioned still doubt that politicians are up to their tasks.
Better grades for politicians
Better grades for the politicians in the government and the opposition: In the annual report card, the politicians received an average of 3.4 (2019: 4.0). Noticeable: Almost every fifth German even rates their work as “good” or “very good”. 38.8 percent gave the grade “satisfactory”. The politicians, no model students in the Corona year, but clearly offset.
Increasing fear of unemployment
When the economy is thriving, the fear of unemployment is low. In 2020, the signs of an impending wave of bankruptcies shake up many Germans. At the same time, the unemployment rate is increasing. The result: The fear of higher unemployment figures in Germany jumps from 28 to 40 percent. Another result shows a look at the fear for their own job: only one in four respondents is worried about it. The background: At the moment, the corona crisis is not affecting all industries equally. Cultural businesses, tour operators and restaurants are particularly affected.
Average fear in East and West
For about ten years now, East and West have converged on the subject of fear. Since last year, the gap has widened again - in 2020 with a difference of seven percentage points.
The top 10 fears in an east-west comparison
A look at the ten biggest fears shows that people in the East are more concerned about most of the top issues. Trump's politics and the poor economic situation are an exception - they are causing the West German population more fear. The differences when it comes to conflicts caused by immigration are clearly visible: West Germans are much more relaxed here. Noteworthy: in the past, people in the west were more concerned about the environment than people in the east. That has now been reversed.
East-west comparison of places 11-22
East Germans are not only more concerned than West Germans when it comes to the top issues - this is shown by the fears in places 11 to 22.
The ten greatest fears in East and West
Which topics are the focus in East and West? While fears of conflicts caused by immigration are still at the top in the east, worries about Donald Trump's politics and economic problems dominate in the west.
Average fear of women and men
The long-term comparison shows that women are fundamentally more anxious than men. The Corona crisis does not change that.
The ten greatest fears of women and men
Trump policies are threatening - most women and men will agree on that in 2020. There are differences in the intensity of the worries and in the economic issues. Interesting: More men than women fear that the EU debt crisis will become expensive for taxpayers and that the large number of refugees will overwhelm the state.
Fear increases with age
Among the youngest respondents, the world is still okay and fear is relatively low. From the age of 20, worries increase noticeably.
The top fears in the age groups
Old or young, all age groups agree that Donald Trump's policies are the most threatening. For the youngest, environmental concerns come second and third. Since Fridays for Future at the latest, protecting the environment and the climate has become a hot topic for young people. In the elderly, however, economic fears dominate. Hardly surprising: From the age of 60, the fear of being in need of care increases in old age.
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