• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Finally: East Germany turns migration corner
A bustling cafe in Leipzig's city centre. Photo: DPA

Finally: East Germany turns migration corner

The Local · 26 Jan 2016, 17:38

Published: 26 Jan 2016 17:38 GMT+01:00

After reunification in 1990 East Germany may have thrown off the cold hand of communism, but that was just the beginning of its problems.

A collapsing economy and crumbling infrastructure pushed many young people to pack up their belongings and start a new life in the west.

Over the first two decades after the 1990 reunification the five states that make up former east Germany lost 1.8 million inhabitants.

But a study published on Tuesday by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development shows that this depressing trend - like a malfunctioning Trabi - has finally been put into reverse.

In 2012 close to 150,000 people moved to the “new states” from west Germany or abroad, meaning it was the first year when the former east experienced net migration, the new figures show.

But the story isn’t a wholly positive one. The study shows a huge disparity between urban and rural areas, with only 15 percent of local governments reporting net inward migration.

The growth is driven by the major cities of Leipzig, Dresden, Erfurt and Potsdam.

Leipzig in particular has won a reputation as an artistic utopia in recent years, wresting the mantle of 'Germany’s coolest city' from Berlin.

The historic Saxon town saw a population increase of 44,000 between 2008 and 2013. In 2013 it grew at a rate of 2 percent a year, making it one of the fastest growing cities in Germany as a whole.

Revitalized towns

Thuringian capital Erfurt's town centre. Photo: DPA

During the communist era the once beautiful inner cities were left to crumble, as the government moved people into more modern high rises on the edge of the main cities.

In the 1990s many people decided to leave these somewhat soulless buildings behind and moved to the country to find a more balanced life, the report notes.

But as huge amounts of money have been poured into restoring the architectural gems of inner Erfurt, Dresden and Leipzig, they have once again become attractive places to live.

Add to that affordability, good universities and increasing job prospects for graduates, and the reasons become clear as to why these cities are now attracting young people from the pricier west and encouraging them to stay, the report argues.

Story continues below…

But the flip side is that these revitalized metropolises are also attracting many young people from the east German countryside.

With few young people left, rural communities are struggling to raise finances to fund infrastructure projects that could make them attractive once more to young families.

The result is a vicious circle in which young people have less desire to stay and so communities have ever less money with which to rebuild themselves, the study notes.

The situation is now so desperate that even people of retirement age are starting to leave rural areas so they have better access to healthcare.

The report recommends that taking in refugees could be an answer to this problem. Not only would this inject youth into aging populations but rural regions would also provide refugees with smoother integration than large anonymous cities, the report's authors argue,

 

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
No injuries after blast near Bavarian migrant centre
A sign at the Zirndorf migrant centre. Photo: DPA

A suitcase, likely packed with aerosol cans, has blown up near a migrant centre on the outskirts of Nuremberg, causing no injuries, police confirm.

Not your average student digs: 'amazing' plastic bubble
Photo: DPA

Could this wacky experiment be the future of student housing?

Police settle train violence over smelly feet
Not the feet in question. Photo: Caitlin Regan/Flickr

A fellow passenger's foot odour proved too much for one traveller to stomach.

How Berliners are responding to the Bavaria attacks
Photo: DPA

Is fear of terrorism creeping up on the capital?

Munich gunman was far-right racist: media reports
Photo: DPA

According to research by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the Munich gunman was proud to have been born on the same day as Hitler and hated Turks and Arabs.

Ansbach suicide attack
Ansbach bomber ‘influenced’ by third person: officials
Photo: DPA

Officials in Bavaria have said that the man who blew himself up in an apparent Islamist attack on Sunday was influenced by an as yet unknown person.

What is the link between the attacks in Germany last week?
Police on guard in Munich. Photo: DPA

And how likely are 'copycat' attacks?

Rights experts call for calm after string of violent attacks
Bavaria has called for soldiers to protect the German border. Photo: DPA

Human rights groups and legal experts are warning the government to react responsibly to the attacks and rampages which have taken place in Germany in recent days.

France church attacker had been arrested in Germany
Photo: DPA

A neighbour described the man as a "ticking time bomb".

Dutch join hunt for German terrorists-turned-outlaws
From left to right: Ernst-Volker Staub, Daniela Klette and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: DPA.

Dutch police on Tuesday told people to be on the lookout for three German far-left militants, at large for decades and suspected of a string of recent heists.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
11,129
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd