The East-West entrepreneurial gap – a crucial economic problem in East Germany?
The ratio of business units per inhabitant is one of the most important factors that determine the development of economies and regions, because it has a strong impact on competition, employment and innovation. In East Germany, where the process of catching up has decelerated since the mid-nineties, the findings on this topic are ambivalent: on the one hand, half a million self-employed persons are counted and a similar number of companies are registered by the regional Chambers of Industry and Commerce. Furthermore, about 157.000 companies engaged in handicraft exist. These figures can be regarded as a success compared to the beginning of the nineties at the outset of systemic transformation. On the other hand, a striking entrepreneurial gap in East Germany still exists compared to the situation in the western part. It seems that this gap will not be closed in the near future, even on the contrary: the number of newly registered business units in East Germany has declined. Against this background, the promotion of entrepreneurship will remain a great challenge on the political agenda.