Humans are creatures of habit: We have been paying in euros for almost two decades now – we still convert to the old currency. However, the common currency wrongly bears the name “Teuro”.
BSometimes you actually catch yourself converting a price into Deutschmarks after all, even if the euro has been the official currency in the euro area and in Germany for a good 16 years. This could happen, for example, if a simple sandwich at the airport costs 6.50 euros. After a brief moment of reflection, you might even change your mind, because you probably wouldn’t have paid almost 13 D-Marks for this slightly dried-up tomato-cheese-pesto mixture.
Apparently you’re in good company with that. Because on average, 38 percent of Germans still convert current prices into D-Marks. In any case, this is the result of a representative survey by Postbank. And 15 percent even do it regularly. Preferences change with age. In the group of 50 to 59 year olds, on average every second person compares the prices of larger purchases. This is also the case between the ages of 30 and 39.
Unfair against the euro
In the age cohort in between and from 60 years onwards, 40 percent behave like this. Understandably, the proportion gets smaller the younger the people are. Only just under a tenth of those questioned between the ages of 18 and 29 use the old currency for comparison, after all, they were still children in the D-Mark era.
As a rule, the prices are simply doubled when converting euros into D-Marks. The exact rate that was set on January 1, 1999 is 1.95583 D-Marks per euro. This is also the rate at which the Deutsche Bundesbank continues to exchange old D-Mark holdings in this country. Some shops also advertise again and again with promotions in the old currency.
The conversion gives many the impression that today’s prices are significantly higher, according to Postbank. The euro was given the name “Teuro” in Germany. “That’s not really fair against the euro,” says Marco Bargel, Postbank’s chief economist. A conversion of current euro prices into D-Mark usually gives a distorted picture.
Germans dream of stability
Many consumers would still have the old prices from 2002 in mind, when the euro replaced the D-Mark as cash. In the meantime, however, the general price level is a good quarter higher than it was then. According to Bargel, the reason for this is not the introduction of the euro. Even if the D-Mark still existed, the general price level would be higher today than in 2002. Since then, inflation has even declined, so that the euro is wrongly made into the euro in the collective memory.
However, many people cannot stop doing the conversion. That is the power of habit, says the psychotherapist Wolfgang Krüger. Comparative samples that have been created once are very stable, which is also necessary and useful. After all, you need fixed orientations; they changed little or only very slowly in life. In addition, Germans in particular tended to adopt habitual behavior patterns: “We may be more compulsive than other cultures and are afraid of change,” says Krüger. There are historical reasons for this. Big changes were often disastrous. In this respect, many Germans dreamed of stability and clung to the familiar. After all, the D-Mark had been legal tender for a good 53 years. But especially when it comes to food, many cannot get rid of the feeling that everything has become significantly more expensive with the euro.