Sunday, 18 July 2010

Reiner Klingholz

...we are still a divided country. Because of the emigration of 1.7 million people - mainly young, qualified, and female - from eastern Germany since the fall of the Iron Curtain, which is more than 10 percent of the former population, as well as the enormous drop in the birthrate. This generation is halved, and if you add the emigration of young families, it is even more than half. This generation born in the 1990s will be in the parent age from 2015 on. We will have halved number of newborns again from 2015 on. Of course, this has an enormous effect on schools, infrastructure, and so on.
Between 2015 and 2020, you will have a number of demographic effects in eastern Germany which will put an enormous stress on the system: 50 percent of potential parents, 50 percent of students, 50 percent of job starters. At the same time, you have the baby boomers being pushed into the pension age. That means less people in the workforce, less buying power, and less taxes for the communities. Plus the end of the Solidarity Pact, which runs out in 2019, will mean less transfer money for eastern Germany. 
We are working on a study on the economic future of Europe where we compare 285 regions. There we find that eastern Germany is the demographic crisis area in Europe. There's no other region - including in Romania and Bulgaria - which is affected to such an extent.
Immigration is one alternative, but you still cannot fill the gaps that began thirty years ago. Why do immigrants come? Because there are jobs. The economic situation in eastern Germany does not cry that much for immigration. The second thing is that the experience with immigration is not that high, so you don't have that many foreigners. Foreigners like to come to places where you already have clusters of Turks, Indians, Pakistanis, and so on. If you don't have the clusters, there's no real attraction for others. 
The third thing is that the openness for foreigners is not very expressed in eastern Germany, so this tolerance is not around. It doesn't make it very attractive for clever Indians to come if they read in the papers that Indian people are beaten up. All this is pretty tough, I would say. (Klingholz, in Wish, 2008) 
An article highlighting the divided society of Germany, still affected by the economic and political systems that created the gap, and continues to influence people's lives today.

Wish, V. (ed.) (2008) Germany Demographic Profile Part 6: "We Are Still a Divided Country". [Online] [18/07/2010]