Housing Vacancies in East German Cities: A Problem not only for Housing Policy
Wirtschaft im Wandel,
In numerous East German cities extreme imbalances in the housing
market have developed with the consequence of extensive housing vacancies. Primarily inner city housing units constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century and housing units constructed within the period of the socialist regime are concerned. The causes for these imbalances can be found in decisions of socialist urban planning, in demographic
factors, in oversized federal promotion of new housing construction after the German unification, and in income increases of private households. The commission “Structural Change in the Housing Economy of the New Länder“, installed by the federal government, has examined this problem and submitted preliminary political recommendations on the federal level in order to reduce the housing market imbalances. The commission recommends federal subsidies for tearing off vacant housing units within a period of ten years. A measure like this raises the question how the risk can be handled that too many flats are torn down. In addition, the commission recommends to double the subsidies for households acquiring already existing flats for own use and to halve the subsidies for households investing in newly built owner-occupied housing in East Germany. These incentives to acquire existing housing units might prove too weak because of the strong preferences of East German households to live in single-family houses. Measures on the federal level can support but cannot replace necessary concrete planning and solution strategies in the vacancy-plagued cities “in situ“.
Financial crisis and problems yet to solve - Conference proceedings
Since the beginning of 1997, a currency and/or banking crisis broke out in several transition countries (Bulgaria, Romania, the Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine). In 1995, Hungary avoided a financial crisis by adjusting properly her macroeconomic policies. Financial markets in transition countries are still small. They gain, however, more and more importance for the entire economy. Part of the countries mentioned are candidates for EU membership. They have to show their ability to stabilize their exchange rates and financial sectors. The fact that overcoming the financial crisis in Asia and Latin America required international assistance (e.g. IMF) underlines the political importance of strategies of preventing such crises in the EU's immediate neighborhood.
Innovative Milieux: Advanced Posts of Interpenetration between the Economic System and the Science System
IWH Discussion Papers,
A growing number of governments, political parties, and enterprises set the theme „innovation“ on their agenda and join in the global race to more competitive national economies. In this race the concept of the „innovative milieu“ serves as an important point of orientation and as a political target that, on the first glance, seems to be transferable in concrete political measures. A basic feature of innovative milieux is the quick and easy transfer of knowledge to products in demand. This speed-up in the diffusion of knowledge is not only interesting with respect to the economic advantages but also with respect to science. It is the basic thesis of this paper that innovative milieux represent special cases where the economic system and the science system interpenetrate in an extreme way. Empirical findings show that the actors of innovative milieux have a strong cultural proximity to basic attitudes and behavior within the science system. This relates to the institutionalization of trial and error, the reinforcement of exploratory behavior, the flow of information, and to a special mixture of cooperation and competition. An essential feature of innovative milieux derives from the network relations of its actors. These relations have to be balanced a) to the need to create trust and reduce uncertainty, and b) to the need to stay permeable enough for linkages with new actors from outside. With regard to time innovative milieux have to be conceived from an evolutionary perspective. This involves several steps: Development of prerequisites, consolidation, attraction of labor and enterprises from other regions. From the evolutionary perspective, too, possible factors of preventing or accelerating the „entropic death“ (Camagni 1991) of innovative milieux can be discussed. The exceptional character of innovative milieux has consequences for innovation-oriented political strategies. The self-enforcing dynamics of innovative milieux create a tendency to more economic inequality between regions (core-periphery differences). This is contradictory to political strategies in which innovation-oriented policy is applied to reach an offset between prospering and impoverished regions. In many cases a strategy starting from the assumption of an enduring non-innovative milieu seems to be more realistic and more promising. Further on, the new more direct links between enterprises and research institutes question the current shape of technology transfer institutions. Finally the potential effects of the new trend to encourage the entrepreneurship of research staff on the science system are discussed.