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Worries across Time and Age in Germany: Bringing Together Open- and Close-Ended Questions


  • Rohrer, Julia

    () (DIW Berlin)

  • Bruemmer, Martin

    () (University of Leipzig)

  • Schupp, Jürgen

    () (DIW Berlin)

  • Wagner, Gert G.

    () (Max Planck Institute for Human Development)


We investigate how worries in Germany change across time and age, drawing on both closed-ended questions (which typically list a number of worry items) and open-ended questions answered in text format. We find that relevant world events influence worries. For example, worries about peace peaked in 2003, the year of the Iraq War, with a considerable number of respondents also referring to the Iraq war in their text responses. Furthermore, we found that – controlling for these historical effects – worries about various topics such as health and the general economic situation increase with age. With increasing age, respondents also became more likely to answer the open-ended question. This suggests that the age increases in worries we found are not merely a result of an age-biased choice of worry items, but instead also hold for worries self-generated by the respondents.

Suggested Citation

  • Rohrer, Julia & Bruemmer, Martin & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2017. "Worries across Time and Age in Germany: Bringing Together Open- and Close-Ended Questions," IZA Discussion Papers 10861, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10861

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gert G. Wagner & Martin Bruemmer & Axel Glemser & Julia Rohrer & Jürgen Schupp, 2017. "Dimensions of Quality of Life in Germany: Measured by Plain Text Responses in a Representative Survey (SOEP)," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 893, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Is well-being U-shaped over the life cycle?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(8), pages 1733-1749, April.
    3. Schwandt, Hannes, 2016. "Unmet aspirations as an explanation for the age U-shape in wellbeing," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 75-87.
    4. Terence C. Cheng & Nattavudh Powdthavee & Andrew J. Oswald, 2017. "Longitudinal Evidence for a Midlife Nadir in Human Well‐being: Results from Four Data Sets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(599), pages 126-142, February.
    5. Marco Giesselmann & Richard Hilmer & Nico A. Siegel & Gert G. Wagner, 2013. "Measuring Well-Being: W3 Indicators to Complement GDP," DIW Economic Bulletin, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 3(5), pages 10-19.
    6. Maximilian Priem & Jürgen Schupp, 2014. "Everyone Happy: Living Standards in Germany 25 Years after Reunification," DIW Economic Bulletin, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 4(11), pages 65-71.
    7. Martin Kroh & Karolina Fetz, 2016. "Das Profil der AfD-AnhängerInnen hat sich seit Gründung der Partei deutlich verändert," DIW Wochenbericht, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 83(34), pages 711-719.
    8. Jo Garcia & Julie Evans & Maggie Reshaw, 2004. "``Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Tell Us'' – Methodological Issues in the Use of Free-Text Comments from Postal Surveys," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 113-125, April.
    9. Kassenboehmer, Sonja C. & Haisken-DeNew, John P., 2012. "Heresy or enlightenment? The well-being age U-shape effect is flat," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(1), pages 235-238.
    10. Gert G. Wagner & Joachim R. Frick & Jürgen Schupp, 2007. "The German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) – Scope, Evolution and Enhancements," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 127(1), pages 139-169.
    11. Gregori Baetschmann, 2014. "Heterogeneity in the Relationship between Happiness and Age: Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 15(3), pages 393-410, August.
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    More about this item


    life course; worries; satisfaction; German Socio-Economic Panel Study; SOEP;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • C83 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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