Investigating the Patterns and Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Germany Following Reunification
This paper investigates the patterns and determinants of life satisfaction in Germany following reunification. We implement a new fixed-effect estimator for ordinal life satisfaction in the German Socio-Economic Panel and find negative effects on life satisfaction from being recently fired, losing a spouse through either death or separation, and time spent in hospital, while we find strong positive effects from income and marriage. Using a new causal decomposition technique, we find that East Germans experienced a continued improvement in life satisfaction to which increased household incomes contributed around 12 percent. Most of the improvement is explained by better average circumstances, such as greater political freedom. For West Germans, we find little change in average life satisfaction over this period.
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