"Unity accomplished": Report hails success of German reunification

"Unity accomplished": Report hails success of German reunification

"Unity accomplished": Report hails success of German reunification

As Germany celebrates 30 years since the uniting of West and East on October 3, 1990, a new report has hailed reunification as a success - but also highlighted some areas for further improvement. 

Taking stock after thirty years of German Reunification 

Taking stock after three decades, an annual report presented to the federal cabinet has emphasised German Reunification as a success story. “Some things have taken longer than planned,” said Marco Wanderwitz, the government commissioner for the former East German federal states, “but in many areas we can basically say: unity accomplished.” 

The report reveals the many fronts upon which the government has managed to achieve parity (or, at the very least, near-parity) in the standing of the former west and east. GDP per capita in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), for instance, has now reached 79,1 percent of that in the rest of the country. In 1990, this figure stood at just 37 percent. 

Income gap closing, unemployment down

The data also shows that the income gap between east and west has narrowed considerably - with the average income in the east in 2018 rising to 88,3 percent of that in the west. There is, however, still lots of work to be done to close the gap entirely. The report’s authors explain that the disparity endures due to lower population density in the east and a smaller number of large companies.

Unemployment has also fallen in the former GDR. Back in 2005, the average unemployment rate across the eastern federal states was above 15 percent. It has now fallen to below 10 percent on average, and even as low as six percent in some areas. In September 2020, the average unemployment rate for the whole of Germany was 6,2 percent, according to the Federal Statistical Office. The report suggests that the retirement of previous generations has helped to drive this positive trend. 

In some areas, the east has even overtaken the west. Women in the former GDR, for example, are more likely to be in full-time employment (74 percent compared to 68 percent) - a trend that can primarily be linked to the better availability of childcare in the east. 

Two-thirds of Germans believe Reunification is not finished

However, there are still areas that need improvement, according to the report. Support for democracy as the best political system for Germany is still much lower in the former GDR (78 percent compared to 91 percent in the former west). The report also found significant differences in attitudes towards foreigners in the east, with the eastern federal states demonstrating the highest rates of support for far-right parties - as high as 20 percent in some areas. 

That there is still room for improvement seems to be the broad consensus of the German population as well. A recent survey by the opinion research institute YouGov found that almost two thirds of people in Germany believe that the merging of east and west is not over yet, with 64 percent saying that the difference in living conditions was still too great. 60 percent said they consider German Reunification to be a success story, while almost one in three (29 percent) are of the opposite opinion. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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