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An anatomy of East German unhappiness: The role of circumstances and mentality, 1990–2018

Philipp Biermann and Heinz Welsch

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2021, vol. 181, issue C, 1-18

Abstract: We decompose the satisfaction gap between East and West Germany into objective circumstances and subjective mentality, the latter capturing the way circumstances are being evaluated. Using the methodology proposed by Senik (2014) we find circumstances and mentality to contribute in the proportion 55: 45%. The mentality-related gap is driven by birth cohorts socialized under different political regimes – communist and liberal-capitalist – and disappears for the youngest cohort group. Results point towards churchliness and satisfaction with democracy being important explanations of the mentality gap. Within-person changes of the mentality gap occurred as aspirations or worries concerning politico-economic shocks were adjusted.

Keywords: Germany; Happiness; Life satisfaction; Reunification; Mentality; Communism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D63 I31 P16 P36 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.11.027

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Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization is currently edited by Houser, D. and Puzzello, D.

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