The aim of this paper is to provide an explanation for the remarkable difference in the contemporary Germans’ positive self-assessment of their living conditions and the development of the most important economic welfare indicators (like GDP or consumption per capita) during the Third Reich. To explain this discrepancy, findings from the new research field of happiness economics are applied to the peacetime Third Reich to analyze the development of the standard of living in this period. To start with, the development of the most important economic determinants of happiness during the 1930s is examined, based on current life satisfaction studies. In the second step, the theory of adaption and aspiration is used to explain the growing satisfaction of the Germans after the Great Depression.
The Economic History Yearbook is a forum for scientific discussion about economic development, the logic of the market, as well as the social and cultural contexts of economic activity from the 16th century to the present. Geographically, it focuses on Europe and especially on Germany, emphasizing comparative perspectives.