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Living Conditions in the New Federal States (January 1997)

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6. The situation on the labor market is marked by a decrease in employment from 9.7 million (1989) to 6.7 million (1995). Despite extensive measures for early retirement, retraining, and employment in special programs, the unemployment rate has risen to about 15 percent. Women, younger people, and older people have been particularly hard hit, as have unskilled workers. However, people over fifty-five have been offered the option of early retirement to a far greater extent than in the West.

7. The unemployed, single mothers, young people, and “involuntary” early retirees are among those groups with special problems and have been most affected by the transformation process; older people enjoyed particularly large increases in income.

8. Following the reorganization of the educational system, there was a rise in the percentage of students leaving high school with the highest qualification [Abitur] and of university students but also in the percentage of high-school drop-outs. In general, the educational system has become more differentiated.

9. Housing [in the East] is still characterized by smaller living spaces and inferior facilities; rent accounts for a lower share of a household’s net income, and the percentage of homeowners is far lower.

10. While there are regional disparities among the new federal states, these differences are – if East Berlin is regarded as an exception – much less pronounced than those among the old federal states. None of the new federal states lags behind in all areas.

11. East Germans’ subjective satisfaction with specific aspects of their living situation, as determined by interviews, is on average lower than in the West. This also applies to the unemployed as a group.

12. Positive aspects of the perceived quality of life, such as happiness and contentment, exist in the new federal states in large measure as well, but they are noticeably rarer than in the old federal states. Negative aspects as expressed in symptoms of anxiety and anomie are significantly more widespread in East Germany.

[ . . . ]

Source: Richard Hauser, “Die Vereinigung ist abgeschlossen – die Unterstützung für den Osten wird fortgeführt” [“Unification is Complete – Support for the East will Continue”], Das Parlament (January 17/24, 1997), p. 1.

Translation: Allison Brown

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