With its "Wellbeing in Germany – what matters to us" initiative, the federal government is turning its attention to the issue of wellbeing. In order to do this, it is important to develop a sound understanding of German citizens' perspectives on wellbeing. So the government initiative started with a six-month consultation process involving interested citizens.
In order to hear as many opinions as possible on the issue of wellbeing, the German government asked for the help of a large number of social groups. The main aim was to ensure diversity. Invitations were sent to a wide range of clubs and associations throughout Germany, asking them to get involved in the national dialogue on "Wellbeing in Germany – what matters to us" by organising events. They included the Bundeswehr-Sozialwerk (charitable organisation for members of the German army), the Arbeiterwohlfahrt (Workers' Welfare Association), various unions, the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Deutscher LandFrauenverband (Women's agricultural association). A number of churches and religious groups also got actively involved, along with many adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) throughout Germany. At the launch of the dialogue phase in Berlin on 13 April 2015 Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister Sigmar Gabriel welcomed organisers from throughout Germany.
“I look forward to speaking with people about what wellbeing means to them. The things that are important to people must inform our policies.”Chancellor Angela Merkel at the launch event
“Whether it is good work, health, family, friends or social cohesion: we want people to talk about what really matters. We want this to be at the heart of our policymaking.”Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel at the launch event
Thanks to strong public interest, 203 national dialogue events took place between April and October 2015 in every region of Germany, including large cities and small rural communities. The Chancellor and federal ministers were invited to 50 events to discuss aspects of wellbeing with citizens.
Anyone who was not able to attend a national dialogue event could still take part online on the national dialogue website or via postcard.
A total of 15,750 people took part in the national dialogue. Their contributions provided a wide-ranging picture of social priorities and political challenges for Germany. This result is not representative in scientific terms, but it is diverse, specific and meaningful.
An independent team of scientists analysed the national dialogue and the online and written opinions of citizens on wellbeing. This was done using a combination of established scientific methods and innovative text analysis software. This ensured that all the issues and aspects of wellbeing discussed in the dialogue were collated in a detailed, differentiated way and organised and described as objectively as possible.
The overall government strategy on "Wellbeing in Germany – what matters to us" was accompanied by an independent scientific advisory board.
The scientific advisory board was made up of the following members:
Dr Stefan Bergheim of the Centre for Societal Progress in Frankfurt am Main;
Dr Heinz-Herbert Noll, of the former Social Indicators Research Centre at the GESIS Institute for Social Sciences in Mannheim;
Professor Dr Christoph M. Schmidt of the RWI - Leibniz-Institute for Economic Research in Essen;
Dr Susanne Schnorr-Bäcker of the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden;
Professor Dr Gert G. Wagner of the Berlin University of Technology;
Professor Dr Sabine Walper of the German Youth Institute in Munich.
The federal government has sole responsibility for selecting the dimensions and indicators as well as for the report on wellbeing.
Almost 400 different topics and aspects relating to wellbeing were addressed and discussed in the national dialogue. The following aspects of wellbeing were mentioned particularly often: