• Germany's news in English

Eastern Germany called economic 'crisis region'

Kristen Allen · 22 Aug 2008, 17:31

Published: 22 Aug 2008 17:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The study, “Europe's Demographic Future,” calls the economically depressed eastern German states “crisis regions,” and ranked them lower than countries like Slovenia and the Czech Republic in demographic stability and prospects for the future.

“Germany as a whole averages right in the middle,” institute director and study co-author Rainer Klingholtz told The Local on Friday. “But the study was conducted regionally, and these regions have the biggest demographic problems in the European Union, not just in Germany.”

Germany is the most starkly divided country in the study, Klingholtz said. Southern German states like Bavaria are among the most economically and demographically successful regions in the study, but former East German states like Saxony-Anhalt are suffering from severe population stagnation. Low birth rates, a high elderly population, and job shortages are all major factors in these depressed regions.

“Germany continues to bear the marks of the old border demarcating the east-west political systems,” the study states. “The boundary separates Germany's needy east from its more prosperous west [...] Despite the massive subsidies that have been pumped into Germany's new eastern states, they have not yet been able to close the gap on the west.”

Since the Wall fell, some 1.7 million Germans have left their eastern homes – up to a million of them almost immediately, which caused an unprecedented void, Klingholtz told The Local.

“Most of them were young, and more women than men left too,” he said. “Which is a problem when it comes to creating future generations.” The drastic change means that eastern German regions are less likely to stabilize after the change to a market economy than countries like Hungary and Slovenia, where the population has emigrated much more slowly.

Add plunging birthrates – which Klingholtz says have gone down by half since before the Berlin Wall fell – and the problem is too big to solve. Not even this week's announcement by the German Statistical Office that birthrates in 2007 were the highest since 2000 can turn back tide of population stagnation, he said.

“It is, without a doubt, too late.” Klingholtz said. “But it's a good sign for government family policies.”

Eastern Germany's only hope to improve its increasingly needy population is education, Klingholtz said. “We will have to adapt cleverly,” he said. “We will have to invest in higher quality education and people will have to work longer to care for the elderly.”

Story continues below…

Iceland is the study's prime example of how this strategy can be employed successfully, along with Sweden and Norway, he said.

The demographic development study included 285 regions in 27 EU countries and the non-EU countries of Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Iceland was named as the healthiest country, and Romania ranked last in the study, which predicts that massive demographic imbalances will continue to change the face of Europe in the next 40 years as native populations stagnate and immigrant populations grow.

Related links:

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd