Stalled Progress

German Unity Has a Long Way to Go

Young people have deserted former East Germany in search of better opportunities.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany has been pouring money into the former East since reunification 24 years ago. But the flow has only partially helped to redress the balance between the economies of the former East and West.

  • Facts


    • From 1991 to 2005, GDP per employed person in the former East Germany rose by more than 100 percent. Between 2005 and 2013, it rose less than 4 percent.
    • Federal aid to the former East German states is scheduled to end in 2019.
    • The German population is currently 81 million. By 2040, it will be less than 74 million.
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Last Friday marked the 24th birthday of the reunification of Germany.  On October 3, 1990, when the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany, then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl predicted that the run-down former East Germany would become a “blooming landscape.” Economic hopes and expectations from that historic day have only been partially fulfilled.

The government’s latest annual report on German reunification maintains that there is little difference between East and West in terms of quality of life and infrastructure. But the truth is, progress in bringing the two together has come to a standstill.

Between 1991 and 2005, real gross domestic product per employed person rose in the new states of eastern Germany by more than 100 percent. In western Germany it rose less than 10 percent. Between 2005 and 2013, however, growth in both areas was less than 4 percent.

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