6 thoughts on “The East West Happiness Gap

  1. So what should we conclude from this? That money does buy happiness?

    Knowing to what extent the feeling of happiness is culture-bound and sensitive to change, how relevant can a comparison between people from former East and West Germany be?

    And is the difference between 6.77 and 7.41 that signifcant, on a scale of 10?

    And why such a choice of these so-called “colors”? The greener the happier?

    And why do people waste their time doing such things?


  2. The methodology behind the map is explained at length at the original side by Max Roser, an Oxford economist.

    Measuring the average level of happiness or contentment of populations is the very opposite of a “waste of time”, it’s considered one of the most vital statistics there is, since it has a profound influence on everything from the level of nationalism to life expectancy to politics.

    As Roser points out, the lower levels of satisfaction in the East are probably due to the hangover effects of disappointed expectations after reunification and of selection effects — i.e. the most optimistic people left for the West.


  3. The map is from glueckatlas.de, sponsored by Deutsche Post (German Postal Service). There should be a law prohibiting the use of 2 digits behind the decimal point in such displays. Also, some indicator for variability should be essential (e.g. between which boundaries do we find the middle 80%, or maybe the middle 50% of the surveyed samples).


  4. I’m not going to dispute the fact that there is no doubt a strong correlation between “happiness”, life expectancy and politics, particularly when happiness is measured over a period of time.

    What I will dispute is the way in which charts, statistics and information in general can be used, and also more generally the objectivity of happiness.

    The measurement of life expectancy and political affinity are objective and not subject to dispute. The assessment of happiness however is inherently subjective, or at least one would hope.

    It’s easy to be misleading with statistics and charts, so when you bring a concept such as happiness into the equation things can get very fuzzy.

    But in addition to these basic principles, I also was critical about the scale and the color scheme.


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