Martin Schröder

Here I present new research findings in a way that is accessible for everyone. Please feel free to comment!

Month: July, 2018

Why the world is getting better but no one notices

Imagine that things are getting better, hugely better, but no one knows.

You might take me for a hopeless optimist in saying that things are getting better, but far from it, it is actually a cold look at the data that makes any other view seem nonsensical. It also hardly matters how you define progress, as the world and life in Germany is getting better in almost any regard.

Want people to not be hungry? While even around 1980 almost half of humanity lived in extreme poverty, the number now is one in ten.

Want world peace? Since the early 1950s, annual battledeaths have declined tenfold, Syria notwithstanding.

Want children to not die? Want countries to become more democratic, intelligence to increase and people to be more satisfied with their life? Well, guess what, all of this is happening, right now, but no one notices.

How about Germany? Want parents to spend more time with their children? Increasing trust in others? Decreases in terrorism and crime? Increasingly clean air and water? High satisfaction with incomes? Check, check, check, check … and check.

Life in the world and in Germany is getting better in all of these regards. And I can prove it. Using data from official sources and surveys that measure life quality and life satisfaction, I show how life in Germany and the world is getting better in almost every regard, and why no one notices (hint: its the media and our own biases).

The book is scheduled to appear on September 20. You can pre-order it on Amazon or at your local bookstore.

Martin Schröder - Warum es uns noch nie so gut ging - groß.jpg


With how man working hours are people happy?

How many hours should people work?

I am pretty sure you, and everyone you know, has asked that question. Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, I can actually show with how many working hours people are most satisfied on average. And the results are pretty strange. In short, while mothers can be satisfied with their life while working long or short hours, fathers become unsatisfied with their life when they work shorter hours.

You can check out the results in this graph, which shows how the life satisfaction of each group is related to working hours.


To put this differently, fathers – and to a lesser degree childless men and women, are most satisfied with life when working full time hours or more. In contrast, hours in employment hardly affect the life satisfaction of mothers. The rational maximization of income as postulated by family economics cannot explain these results, as they are even found in household where women earn more than men. Because the results are also found among those with secure jobs and very little household work and childcare duties, they also contradict the predictions by expansionist role theory that men and women are better off in egalitarian employment arrangements. The results change little with time, cohorts and educational groups. Except for childless women, they therefore fit best with the predictions of traditional role theory, which suggests that people are most satisfied when adhering to stereotypical gender roles.

Now, if you ask me, I am puzzled as to how this can come about. I thought we live in a world by now where men and women – and especially fathers and mothers profit equally from an immersion into working life. Alas, the data seems to contradict this.

Here is a link to the article (sadly, behind a paywall).