Although Germans tend to feel slightly less vulnerable this year, they have become even more risk-averse than before. The development of collaborative consumption in Germany is not so much a comfort: Germans are rather less into these new practises, and are not equally convinced that they can lead to more solidarity in society.
Unlike the European average, only a minority of Germans feel more vulnerable than 5 years ago towards the risks of experiencing financial difficulties (44% consider they are more at risk today, compared to 59% for the European average), being plunged into a precarious situation (37%; compared to 53% on average). They are also less concerned by the possibility of losing their job (26% think the risk is higher compared to 44%). Their level of concern has even decreased compared to last year (-5 points for being plunged into a precarious situation and -4 points for losing their job).
In 2013, the risk of unemployment was one of the three risks worrying Germans the most. This is far from being the case this year: it is now in 7th place. Only 22% (compared to 29% on average) cite this risk among the three they find the most worrying, far behind health risks –including the loss of autonomy- (61%), financial risks (40%) but also this year after the risk of being mugged or robbed (30%), the risk of an attack (23%) or even computer-related risks (23%).
A relative majority still consider they are better protected against these risks than 5 years ago (36% compared to 33% on average) and 34% consider they are “neither better nor less well protected” (compared to 26% on average). People who think they are less well protected are in the minority (30%) and this proportion remains rather stable (31% in 2012).
Although Germany remains the country among those surveyed where people are the least likely to consider their social situation is worse than their parents when they were their age (24% compared to 40% on average), this proportion has significantly increased (+17 points compared to 2013). Upward social mobility is clearly no more taken for granted. Whereas in 2013, 55% of the German population thought they had a better social situation than their parents, only 26% think the same today.
In this context, Germans’ cultural aversion to risk has become even stronger: 66% (+4 points compared to 2013; +9 points compared to 2012) consider risk as danger to be avoided (compared to 60% on average). A majority of them (61%; stable) also think that to be successful, it is better to be careful and not take too many risks (compared to 52% on average). Germans are also even less likely than in 2013 to consider that risk is promoted in their country (36%; -5 points) and are also less keen on taking risks themselves (66% consider they are taking risks; -6 points compared to 2013; -11 points compared to 2012).
In Germany, the rise of collaborative consumption (renting, lending, exchanging knowledge between private individuals, car-sharing, exchanging homes…) is less spectacular than in other European countries such as France, Italy, Spain or Poland. Whereas 64% of Europeans have witnessed the emergence of these new forms of consumption in their country, “only” 53% have seen this develop in Germany (including only 7% “a lot”, compared to 14% on average), the lowest score observed in Europe.
For the last 5 years, Germans have less than other Europeans opted to buy things second hand (23% have done this more often, compared to 39% on average), to borrow them (18% compared to 27% on average), to exchange themor to hire them (13% compared to 17%).
Germans are also less likely than the average to consider collaborative consumption as an answer to the economic crisis: only 41% think the main reason for its development is the economic recession which is making people try to spend less (compared to 69% in France for example).
Germans have on average tried 3.7 out of 17 collaborative consumption practises tested, which is less than the European average (4.6). A majority of them have however bought products from small local producers who live in their region (65%; same as the European average) and have already bought or sold second-hand cultural goods (57%; even more than the European average of 54%). Other practices have been tried only by a minority. Germans especially lag behind when it comes to practices linked to driving: for example, only 7% have asked a private individual to rent them his car or drive them in a car-sharing arrangement (compared to 19%) and 7% have already used a car-club car (compared to 13%). Germans have also been less seduced by practices in the field of housing, such as asking directly a private individual to rent their home for their holidays (7% compared to 19%) or exchanging homes for holidays (5% compared to 9%).
Germans still prefer to own their car (89% compared to 11% who prefer to lend it or borrow it) and their main residence (84%), but not much more than other Europeans. Germans are even more likely than other Europeans to prefer borrowing or hiring a second home than owning it (73% compared to 65% on average). Same for car accessories such as a roof box, cycle rack, child seat… (41% compared to 36%). German minds might therefore be ready for a change in practices when it comes to consumption and ownership.
The majority of Germans are anyway convinced that the development of collaborative consumption is an underlying trend (69% think so, although a bit less than the European average of 73%). Only 31% believe on the contrary that these new forms of consumption will not last, and that this phenomenon will run out of steam.
When 69% of the Europeans believe that the development of collaborative consumption leads to more solidarity in society, Germans are less enthusiastic: 55% think it is the case (lowest score observed).
A significant proportion of the German population remains to be convinced that collaborative consumption practices can show (even only partly) solidarity: 57% of Germans indeed think that lending money through a crowdfunding site in exchange for interest is not at all showing solidarity (compared to 47% on average), 32% think the same about offering to give people a lift in exchange for a small contribution to expenses (compared to 24%) and 39% about participating in the creation of an internet tutorial (compared to 24% on average).
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