Comparative Political Economy: Differences between a Citizen Living in the US and Germany
It is evident that there are differences between the conditions of life in different countries. The current paper will analyze the similarities and differences between two western countries (German and the US). It is true that countries are different in culture, the way people treat each other and the rules existing in the country among others. Germany and the US are countries with rich cultural backgrounds with each trying to preserve their culture though the US is said to be more liberal and ready for change. The paper highlights the major differences between living in the US and Germany. It analyzes how life as an American citizen is different from the life as a citizen of Germany in terms of healthcare, pension schemes and family policies.
Though the two countries are democratic, there are differences in the way they approach democracy. The US has been using the winner-takes-all approach also known as majority systems. This means that the voters choose an appropriate candidate and the candidate with the majority votes as required wins. In Germany, there is used a mixture of both majority and proportional systems, and this ensures that the proportion of parliamentary seats received by a party will be equal to the proportion of votes in favor of that party. In Germany, elections are not money driven, and candidates are given equal time irrespective of their financial capacity.
Comparisons between the Two countries and How Being a Citizen of One Are Better than the Other
It can be said that one is much safer in Germany as the rate of crime is lower, and there are no threats of terrorism like in the US. People in Germany lead a healthier lifestyle as compared to the US as health is a universal need for everyone and the government caters for that. In Germany, the work-life balance is better compared to the US as German citizens work fewer hours thus having more vacations as compared to Americans. Regarding healthcare, Germany has a universal healthcare thus its citizens spend a small percentage of their income on healthcare as compared to the Americans, which use almost all their incomes to take care of their health.
The pension scheme in Germany is more coordinated and more controlled and each German citizen is assured of a bright future after retirement. Social life is better in Germany as the pension scheme is better controlled across its cities. However, the pension schemes in Germany are difficult for foreigners and one will spend more money on savings for their future
Life in Germany is better if a person is employed, as the jobs in this country are secure. It is rare for one to be laid off for instance when there are recessions. The German companies will instead cut the working hours by 10% as opposed to firing 10% of the entire workforce. This is beneficial as it helps the country to keep on going despite the economic collapse and they can just increase the working hours when the recession stops as opposed to hiring new staff. The labor unions in Germany are very strong, and there is a strong bond between the employers and their workforce.
In the US, the commitment the employer makes to employees is financed through a pension fund just like in Germany where there is a special plan financed through book reserves. In the US, there must be a pension fund but the plan is in fact backed up by assets of the company. The US state system has been offering a pension based on lifetime earnings. Private pensions have been voluntary and may be personal or occupational. In Germany, supplementary pension plans are common for many employers.
Though the average American citizen is more conscious about health as opposed to a German citizen, the average German citizen is healthier compared to the American one. In Germany, every citizen is covered by health insurance. All employers in Germany ensure that their employees are covered by insurance that is more secure when it comes to health. Even when one loses their job, they will not start paying fresh premiums as the government takes care of this.
In Germany, there is a universal health insurance whereas in the US private firms who at time exploit the customers provide insurance. This means that in Germany the coverage of health is universal. In the US, healthcare systems are known as Medicare, Medicaid and there is the Obama care which is aimed at providing affordable healthcare to citizens. Though both Germany and the US are capitalistic countries, the anti-communism attitude is more prevalent in the US than in Germany. Germany practices social-capitalism according to which its social market economy is heavily influenced by Marxist ideas. This makes Germany more caring about its citizens as compared to the US where private insurance firms exploit the poor.
The cost of healthcare in Germany is cheaper compared to the high cost of healthcare services in the US, which are making people go bankrupt. The social safety in Germany is very strong, and the state helps citizens to be provided with healthcare services if they cannot pay thus people are less likely to go bankrupt for reasons related to their healthcare. This is happening in the US where many have gone bankrupt as a result of medical bills. Regarding health insurance, it varies between the rich and poor in the US. That is why one may see many obese people in the US, as they do not enjoy healthy lifestyle. They take food supplements and vitamin pills while in Germany healthy foods are recommended, and natural organic foods are available.
In Germany, the drinking age is low. Individuals who are sixteen years are legally allowed to consume wine. Fourteen years old individuals can also buy wine but in the company of a parent. Eighteen years is the legal age for consuming alcohol. This does not make German citizens less healthy than the Americans; cases of obesity are being reported in the US more frequently than in Germany.
Family and Social Life
In Germany, the government is more concerned about the welfare of its citizens and thus the levels of poverty are low meaning that there is less social inequality. Germany has a longer history with many cities and buildings having over a 100 years history. The social life of a German citizen is far much better than in many countries. In the US, the social life is somehow liberal and people have many freedoms compared to Germans. The work life balance in Germany is good, which ensures that a person has strong ties with their family. However, both countries value families and they have strong cultural values as far as families are concerned.
Having analyzed healthcare, family life and pension schemes in the two countries, it can be concluded that it is better to be a citizen of Germany compared to the US. This is because the German federal government has put in line a structure, which ensures that all the basic commodities like health, welfare and pension schemes of citizens are catered for. The work life balance in Germany is good, which ensures that citizens have strong ties with their families. There are however some other factors that can make the US a better place to live in.
In the US, one enjoys lower taxation as compared to living in Germany with the cost of living being a bit lower. Living in the US can make one more diverse as the inhabitants of the US have different ethnic backgrounds, and they have learned to appreciate one another while Germany is said to be a racist country. In general, Germany is a better place to live in as compared to the US in terms of healthcare.
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