The federal republic as a country with diverse opposites or contrasting diversity, with further convergence, but also still dividing east and west – with this tenor, the berlin institute for population and development has presented a new study on the state of german unity.
Reunification is a success story, says institute director catherina hinz. And the federal government's commissioner for the east, marco wanderwitz (CDU), says the foundation of unity is strong and can be built on further. "In the last 30 years, we have jointly mastered a herculean task."But there are differences in economic power and income.
To the 30. Anniversary of unification (3. October) the study highlights 30 aspects of life for germans in the east and west. A selection:
Population: the number of inhabitants in the eastern german flatlands continues to decline, with around 2.2 million fewer people since unification (around 12.6 million at the end of 2019). In the old lander, the increase was more than 5.4 million people. East and west are on opposite demographic paths, say the authors. Fewer people lived in the eastern states and the saarland in 2019 than in 1991. Saxony-anhalt, which has lost almost one in four of its population, has been hit hardest by the decline.
Incomes: on average, east germans still have 14 percent less income than west germans. Households between rugen and the erzgebirge have saved half of what a household between sylt and the alps could have saved. The real difference in income, however, is between economically strong regions and those that are undergoing major structural changes. At the turn of the millennium, the lowest-income districts were still located exclusively in the east; now, residents in the ruhr area cities of gelsenkirchen and duisburg have the lowest annual incomes.
SATISFACTION: people in east and west have never been more satisfied in the past 30 years than in 2019. Yet, on average, four out of ten east germans feel like second-class burgers.
FAITH: in the GDR, 37 percent of east germans were members of one of the mainstream churches; in 2018, the figure was 21 percent (including berlin). The west is following the trend toward secularization, says co-author susanne dahner. Whereas 85 percent were church members in 1987, the proportion dropped to 61 percent.
Dishwashers: as recently as 1993, there was a dishwasher in an average of just under 3 out of every 100 eastern german households, but in 38 in the west. Meanwhile, the device is used in two-thirds of eastern german households and in 75 percent of western german cakes. East germans, however, are less convinced of the benefits of a washer-dryer, with only a quarter of households having one. In the west, the dryer is part of the inventory in every second household.
WOMEN IN THE WORKFORCE: in 1991, half of the women in the west were employed; today, the figure is almost 72 percent, similar to that in the new federal states. The east was the role model, the west has followed suit. Nationwide, women earn more than men in 23 of 401 counties – the counties are all in the east.
CHILDREN: there are no longer any significant differences in the number of newborns. In 2019, the birth rate was 1.54 children nationwide. In the old federal republic, the rate was around 1.4 % for decades. In the GDR, the birth rate rose to 1.94 in 1980; after the fall of the berlin wall, the east german birth rate dropped to the historically unprecedented level of about 0.8.
LIFE EXPECTANCY: since the mid-2000s, girls born between aachen and zittau can expect to live to 83 on average. West german youngsters, on the other hand, can still look forward to an average of 1.3 more years of life than east germans. Differences are determined by social inequality. In prosperous baden-wurttemberg, women live the longest at 84 and men at 80 on average. Women have the lowest expectancy at 82 years in saarland and men at 76 years in saxony-anhalt.