Former East Germany Still Lagging Far behind West Germany 29 Years after Communism

Former East Germany Still Lagging Far behind West Germany 29 Years after Communism

The five German states which used to be part of the former East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic, are catching up extremely slowly with the country’s western provinces even 29 years after the fall of the communist regime, and 28 years after the unification.

West Germany, a liberal democracy and market economy allied with the West, and East Germany, a totalitarian communist dictatorship controlled by the Soviet Union, existed alongside one another during the entire Cold War.

Regardless of the massive West German investments in the East after the reunification of Germany in 1990, the former communist provinces still have a hard time catching up economically.

The economic gap between Germany’s former Soviet eastern states and the western ones continues to narrow, but at a rate that is hardly noticeable, according to the annual Unity Report, (Jahresbericht zum Stand der deutschen Einheit), as cited by DW.

The report presented to Germany’s federal government on Wednesday, found that the economy of the east German states is “only very slowly” catching up to the levels enjoyed in the more export-oriented states in the west.

In 2017, the five east German states had a GDP per capita that was 73.2% of that in the western states, essentially the same level as in 2016.

The GDP gap between the east and the west of Germany closed by only 4.2 percentage points over the last decade.

According to Christian Hirte, the federal government’s commissioner for the five former communist states, the differences in question are still prevalent in everyday life in the former East Germany.

“Despite all the successes, we still see a high degree of dissatisfaction and skepticism,” Hirte said.

“We must take this seriously. The federal government must create opportunities in the east, particularly given attitudes towards the establishment and public authorities, or the structural changes we’re seeing in coal mining areas,” he elaborated.

What is more, the report also emphasized the threat to the rural regions of Germany’s former communist states posed by mass emigration – even though now the locals tend to move to nearby cities rather than to the west of the country.

“The effects of this development can already be clearly felt when it comes to the development of technical and social infrastructure,” the report noted.

Positive trends were noticed, however, with respect to employment, as 10 years ago employment rates in the east were 10% lower than in the west; the difference now stands at 2.3%.

The report also noted the former East Germany’s continuous demographic decline, as presently 59% of its population is of working age (between 20 and 64) and a quarter are old enough to retire (65 years and older).

By 2030, the German Economy Ministry estimates that only 52% of the population will be working and 32% will have retired.

The former East Germany has only about 20% of Germany’s total population, it accounts over 50% of far right hate crimes (572 offenses out of 1,054 in 2017). The prominence of this trend was recently underscored by the far right and neo-Nazi outbursts in Chemnitz and Köthen, both in east Germany, following crimes involving migrants.

(Banner image: Wikipedia)

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