In the 30th year of unity, the contrast between East and West hardly exists. Much decisive for whether or not a region and the people there are going well are now the differences between city and country, between North and South Germany. This is the result of a study published Thursday by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, which examined the state of affairs in thirty chapters shortly before the 30th anniversary of unification on October 3, 1990. “Diversity of Unity” is the title, and covers, among other things, the development of the population, health and the labor market, but also the development of income and wealth and crime in both parts.
“East-west migration has stopped since 2015 and the number of children is also increasing,” the study said. There are now about the same number of trips from west to east. This, of course, hardly mitigates the effects of the two waves of emigration, the first after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and again a decade later.
“About a generation later, the sparsely populated cohorts of the 1990s mean that there are fewer potential parents.” In addition, the five eastern countries hardly benefited from immigration from abroad, which prevented them from filling the gaps that then arose. Manuel Slupina, head of the institute’s demographics department and one of the authors, cited the lack of economic opportunity in the East outside the boom as the reason.
East Germany is as sparsely populated today as it was in 1905
While the population in the east fell back to 1905 levels between 1990 and now, twice as many people live in the west as at the turn of the century. This dividing line between East and West will remain, Slupina and colleagues predict: in all five countries, the population will continue to shrink by 2035, especially in Saxony-Anhalt, by 16 percent compared to 2017. Berlin, on the other hand, will be there by then. still have eleven. Percentage grow. At the same time, five states in the west are likely to shrink and another five to grow – the strongest in Hamburg, the southwest and Bavaria. On the other hand, nearly nine percent fewer people will live in the small Saarland.
“Remote regions are losing – both east and west,” the study says. But there are also winners in both directions: “Leipzig can even expect the largest population growth in the entire country in 2035.” Weimar, Jena, Halle and Magdeburg are also attractive to new citizens, researcher Slupina noted when the study was presented. The dividing line increasingly runs throughout Germany “between the attractive big cities and their surrounding areas and the rural regions far from the centers”.
Apparently much has grown together in the life of the individual in thirty years. Life expectancy in East and West, which has drifted apart in the two German Länder since the 1970s, has become completely equal for women. Statistically, you can count on 83 years. Men are lagging behind, and Eastern men are still 1.3 years behind their counterparts in the West. Overall, the East has quickly overtaken the “cardiovascular revolution” in the West after 1990 in terms of health, according to the study. While the GDR was mainly concerned with maintaining the working population of the working population from the end of the 1960s, Western medicine was committed to combating death from cardiovascular disease in the elderly. Moreover, according to the study, people now live healthier lives in the east, where people used to smoke and drink more. As early as 20 years after 1990, the people here were just as healthy as there, “the trend continues to this day”.
East Germans have 14 percent less income – the gender gap is large
But in essence, the research team writes, social inequality and income determine lifespan: In the suburbs around Munich, men can now expect to live an average of 81.2 years, in Bremerhaven they only live 75.8 years. When it comes to money, it is the people in the East who are lagging behind: after a ‘first catch-up race’, hardly anything has happened since the mid-1990s and East Germans have an average of 14 percent less income than West Germans. Above all, the gender pay gap persists throughout Germany, says geographer Susanne Dähner, one of the study’s authors. But in the east, the income gap between men and women is greatest.
Nonetheless, Germans are generally more satisfied than ever with their lives – almost as much in the East as in the West. On the scale of zero to ten of the Socio-Economic Panel, which also measures this value annually, East Germans reached a record high of seven points last year, only 0.17 points less than the West. The Glücksgraben tends to run from north to south and regardless of the money: the people who have been most satisfied in the structurally weak Schleswig-Holstein for a number of years have been in many places.
However, data aside, there are apparently other feelings of neglect that have little to do with the labor market, health or life expectancy. Many people in the East feel that they are not seen enough and that they are not represented in ordinary Germany: differences persist, writes Catherina Hinz, the director of the Berlin Institute in the foreword to the study, “ when East- Germans see themselves hardly or mainly negatively represented in the media or in other areas’.
The media is looking from the west to the east
The study cites, for example, the lack of headquarters in the east, whose economy is still characterized by medium-sized companies, but also the tunnel vision of the media, which continued to look from west to east: “Since the fall of the wall, East Germany has stood as a problem on the front pages “According to the study. Since the 2000s, the East has been described as allegedly abandoned. Few people with an East German biography remain in the editorial boards of the major newspapers. “Many East Germans can hardly get into the major media, which could contribute to the fact that skepticism towards radio and press remains higher.”
Another persistent difference emphasized the Federal Government Commissioner for Eastern Europe, Marco Wanderwitz, who next week will publish the official government report on the state of unity: the “state of democracy in the new federal states”. Presenting the institute’s report on Thursday, Wanderwitz called the higher “tendency to vote for extremist parties”, while at the same time “confidence in the institutions and democracy was at a terribly low level.” It is necessary to strengthen political education. The Saxon CDU politician said he would become more involved in citizens’ dialogues, “to pick up those alienated from democracy.”