Inequality replaced immigration as the biggest concern for the citizens of Europe’s three biggest economies (excluding the UK). As many as 75 percent of Italian respondents and 71 percent each of the French and the Germans exhibited growing unease with income inequality. Jobs and pensions were other stressors.
The Italians were the most worried about jobs while the Germans felt more strongly about pension reforms. About two-thirds of French respondents expressed concerns over both issues.
“Many respondents seem to fear a looming pension crisis,” says Arne Holzhausen, head of insurance and wealth at Allianz Research and co-author of the study. “Against the backdrop of demographic change, zero interest rates, and the changing nature of work, these fears are not totally unfounded. The pension problem, however, cannot be solved by governments alone. Self-responsibility – own savings efforts – are also important.”
Unemployment was a sore point more for the Italians and the French than for the Germans, reflecting the healthy labor market of Deutschland.
Tax, that topic of debate among the working class since time immemorial, also featured high on the list of nags. The Italians and the French saw high taxes as a deterrent to future development. But respondents from Germany, the country with one of the highest tax rates in the EU, were more relaxed about it. A bigger consideration for them was what they perceived as an inadequate education system.
From half to nearly 60 percent of respondents believed that societal developments had gone off track, as measured by the Allianz Need for Change Indicator (ANCI). The indicator reads people’s longing for change related to national and supranational politics, globalization, digitalization/internet and climate change.
However, they weren’t too hopeful that fundamental transformations were under way. This pessimism was reflected in the Allianz Future Confidence Indicator (AFCI), which stood below 50 in all three countries, suggesting low trust in the political system.
In fact, a majority of Italian and French respondents saw their political systems as being the problem!