Dhe population in Germany is afraid of tax increases and inflation, but is not very afraid of contracting the coronavirus. In the study “Die Ängste der Deutschen” (The Fears of the Germans), which is financed annually by R + V Versicherung, concerns about a severe corona infection or other serious illnesses only ranked 14th. Only 36 percent of the 2,400 respondents rated this fear on a scale of one up to seven with values between five and seven – that is, the assessment that the authors of the study summarized under “great fear”.
Concern about the cost of living
However, the respondents are definitely afraid of the consequences of the corona pandemic, but above all of the financial ones: 53 percent said they were “very afraid” that the corona crisis would result in tax increases or reductions in benefits. 50 percent each expressed great fear of rising cost of living and higher costs for taxpayers as a result of the European debt crisis. The fear of migration and being overwhelmed by the influx of foreigners are only in the second subject area in the most recent survey; According to the results of the survey, which was completed in early summer, concerns about the climate would only have appeared in third place. The flood disaster in western Germany, however, drastically changed the order of the motives for fear.
In a hasty online follow-up survey of 1,000 participants, 69 percent said they were very afraid of damage from natural disasters (previously it had been only 41 percent). 61 percent felt very afraid of the general consequences of climate change; here too, the value had previously been significantly lower at 40 percent. The wide variation in fears about climate change demonstrates how much current events determine public concerns.
Fear of refugee migration in East Germany is greater
The fear of being overwhelmed by the arrival of foreigners (currently perceived by 45 percent of those surveyed as a great fear) had reached a high of 66 percent in 2016. Here, however, persistent differences between West Germans and East Germans are noticeable. While in the west only 42 percent were of the opinion that refugee migration created fear of being overwhelmed, the proportion in the east was 58 percent. Another example of the connection between current events and acute feelings of threat is the fear of terrorist attacks. Currently with 32 percent of the classifications as “great fear” it has fallen to 16th place of the 20 fear motives that the study records annually; In 2016, they categorized 73 percent of those surveyed as “very afraid”.
Overall, the fear index, which results from the average sum of the worries recorded, has fallen to 36 percent in the current study – and thus marks a low over the past 30 years. The Heidelberg political scientist Manfred Schmidt, who is scientifically accompanying the study, warned against equating this average value with increasing carelessness when it was published. He thinks the population’s assessments of the risk of serious corona diseases are “over-optimistic,” said Schmidt.