Interregional equalization policy in focus: Donor regions and beneficiary regions and their economic performance
The future of the interregional equalization policy in Germany is discussed intensively at present. While in the past the interest of equalization policy was focussed primarily on the regions which benefit from interregional equalization policy (beneficiary regions) and the effects obtained there, recently the view is directed also toward the regions which bear the fiscal burden of the equalisation policy (donor regions). Concerning the donor regions, a fear of growth-absorbing withdrawal effects exists, which gives reason in view of declining economic growth rates on the national level to think about the future of interregional equalization policy. The IWH contributed to this debate together with two project partners by an investigation, which was accomplished on behalf of the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning. The following findings will show the economic performance of the donor regions (exclusively West German regions) and of the beneficiary regions (all East German regions and a few West German regions) and their changing economic growth patterns. Concerning the level of economic performance, measured by means of the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, as expected, the donor regions, consisting of West German regions, in the period 1992-2003 altogether show an above average GDP per capita. In contrast, the beneficiary regions, both the East German and (less strongly) the West German show a GDP per capita below average. Concerning the development of the economic performance, which was measured on the basis of the relative GDP per capita (GDP per capita of the region concerned in relation to the national average), the East German beneficiary regions could catch up in the first period (1992-1998) strongly. This catching up process, however, clearly slowed down in the second period 1998-2003. Like a mirror-image the lead of the donor regions regarding GDP per capita in relation to the national average became smaller. But after 1998 many West German donor regions regained their growth dynamics. Additionally the contributions of the regions to the absolute increase of the GDP in the period 1998-2003 were investigated: 30 of 271 regions have a share of around 50% in the overall GDP increase, 28 of them located in West Germany, and 21 of them donor regions. This in mind, the policy should further provide and secure favourable development conditions for those regions, which contribute at most to the increase of the overall economic performance and thus create the economic base for the interregional equalization policy.