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Synthesis 2015 > Germany

Germany 2015

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.

In Germany, the feeling of vulnerability has rather decreased

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).

Germans become however increasingly more risk-averse

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).

Germans are a bit less into collaborative consumption than other Europeans

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.

Germans remain to be convinced of the virtues of collaborative consumption

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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