“Overall, people – and Germans in particular – are more worried than ever,” managing director and vice chairman of the GfK Association Raimund Wildner said in a statement.
“What is remarkable this year is that the number of concerns expressed has rocketed. In fact, I can hardly recall such a quantum leap before, at least not in the past 20 years.”
While only 16 percent of Britons and 36 percent of Swedes said they feared losing their jobs, a whopping 66 percent of Germans complained of the fear in 2010, poll results showed.
Though unemployment was the top concern in eight of the 11 European countries included in the study, the average of 43 percent was well below Germany’s level of distress.
Unemployment has remained the top concern among Germans for the last 20 years with the exception of 1991, but the jump of nine percent from the previous year to reach two-thirds of the population was unprecedented, according to GfK.
The study, entitled “Challenges of Europe 2010,” explained that while unemployment has risen less than expected during the recession (up from 7.3 percent in 2008 to 7.5 percent in January 2010 according to the OECD), growing concern may stem from uncertain and unpredictable future prospects.
The poll, which questioned a total of 13,200 consumers in February and March, also showed the number of concerns themselves have jumped among Germans since 2009 – up from 2.8 to 3.2 issues in 2010.
“This represents a giant leap,” Wildner said.
Meanwhile anxiety about economic development dropped by 10 percentage points, though it still took second place among Germans’ top concerns in 2010 at 26 percent. Given recent rancour over the Greek bailout, this was also surprisingly one of the only issues that Germans worried about less than their European neighbours.
Public healthcare was also a worry, with 21 percent saying they were uncertain about the future of the German benefits system – up from just 10 percent since last year, GfK reported.
An additional spike in Germans’ worries focussed on whether their retirement was secure, up to 19 percent from just 9 percent last year.
Security was also a source of apprehension, with 15 percent of Germans citing concerns about criminality, compared to 8 percent in the previous annual poll.
The study was conducted in Germany, France, Austria, the UK, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia, Poland, Spain and, for the first time, Sweden. Respondents were allowed to provide multiple answers to the open-ended question: “In your opinion, which are the most urgent issues to be resolved in your country today?”