It's hard to write a post about the quality of life in Germany vs. the US. For one thing, I didn't spend too many of my independent adult years in the US. I moved when I was 25 but I had decided to work a string of low paying office jobs right after graduating high school. I didn't get serious about getting a university degree until I was in my 20s. Most of what I know about the economy I learned while stuck in the low bracket of pay reserved for young women with a high school diploma. I didn't make enough money to live alone and spent many years alternately dependent on student housing or living with my parents. I know it's not possible to live a good life on 20,000 a year which is why I decided to go back to school. Few things are more depressing than working 40 hours a week and not being able to pay rent, buy groceries and pay your car loan in the same month. This period taught me to respect people at the bottom of the money making totem pole. The amount of disrespect and abuse I saw was unbelievable. And I won't even get into the sexual harassment and discrimination because it's too depressing to dredge up after all these years.
This post is going to be so biased it's not funny, so read on keeping in mind the point of view I'm writing it from. If I were still a person with a high school diploma and limited earning then Germany would be a much better place for me. The US is a terrible place for people close to the poverty line. It's also not a great place to live if you get laid off or disabled or have serious health problems that keep you from working. The USA has a very limited social safety net and not everyone is granted equal access to social services. Most of those services are most beneficial to middle class people facing a temporary lay off. Germany does a better job of taking care of it's citizens though both countries have social problems. I understand the fear Americans have of creating a welfare state but I see Germany developing more American-like social problems as it moves more towards profit based policies. These changes were glaringly evident when we were looking at the housing market in Berlin. You can read more that here and here.
To compare quality of life I took the most current statistics I could find on basic things like: cost of living, health and health care, happiness, the environment, equality, infrastructure, freedom, safety and my own personal biases. Some specific things like child care and maternity leave I'm not going to cover. Obviously deciding which country you like better is a completely personal choice that entails all kinds of things not covered by statistical data. I put this data together more for fun than as a real analysis of each country.
EmploymentThe first thing I'm going to look at is the unemployment rate. These rates don't tell us much about particular regions in the country. I would imagine that it would be somewhat worse in Berlin and somewhat better in Chicago. Germany beats out the US, but not by too much. Probably because the US is still recovering from a recession. Germany 1, USA 0
Gender equalityDo I have to say that gender equality is a problem dear to my heart? Probably not. I am a feminist with a daughter after all. Germany kicks the US in the teeth on this one. American gender equality is just too depressing. Germany 1, USA 0
Smallest gender gap
Infant mortality rates
Germany 3 per 1000 births
USA 6 per 1000 births
Maternal mortality rateThe same as above, Germany 1, USA 0
Germany- 7 per 100,000
USA- 21 per 100,000
Comparing health care is difficult because in the US the quality of health care depends a lot on if a person is insured and what kind of insurance they have, how much it covers and so forth. When I was doing research on this the thing that I read over and over was 'The U.S. ranks behind most countries on many measures of health outcomes, quality, and efficiency. In part, that’s because the U.S. does not have the kind of universal health system common in most wealthy nations'. Burn. The US health care system is in transition right now so it's impossible to know if health care is going to improve. The most striking thing to note is that Americans pay almost twice as much for health services than Germans. That's just crazy. For most of my time in Germany I've had private health insurance which is both expensive and fantastic. So far I have absolutely nothing out of pocket for my health care. source source Germany 1, USA 0
|It's overall hard to say if the cost of living in Germany is higher or lower. That's because the things that you absolutely have to have to survive like food, shelter and beer cost less but everything else is more expensive. Another thing worth noting is that Americans get paid more than Germans. Americans average monthly disposable salary after tax is $3,298.14 compared to $2,776.56 for Germans. Americans are making 15.8% more and they pay less taxes. Things like basic utilities cost 60% and going to the movies 20% more in Germany than in the US. This is probably why even when Germans have clothing dryers than prefer to hang clothes on a line to dry. Germany 0, USA 2 source|
|The US ranks 37 and Germany 47|
|So many issues probably play into this. Good customer service? Friendlier people? More buying power? An overall more positive attitude? Even thought Germans say they feel more a part of their community, get more exercise, live in a better environment and have better work life balance they aren't as happy. USA 1, Germany 0|