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Productivity gap of East German industry: A summarizing evaluation

Ten years after German unification labor productivity in the New Laender reaches only 70 per cent of West German levels. Further, in the second half of the 1990ies, convergence did not continue. Because productivity can be regarded as a key for wages, for competitiveness of firms and for future transfer payments, the reasons for low productivity in East Germany are of major importance. In this article, it is argued that the existing productivity gap reflects mainly structural differences between East and West Germany, that is the high share of small firms and the predominance of sectors with low value added per worker. Additionally, difficulties on product markets leading to insufficient selling prices are responsible for the comparative low productivity of East German firms. Differences in capital intensity or in human capital, however, do explain only a small part of the productivity gap.

07. June 2001

Authors Joachim Ragnitz

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