East Germany Rearguard
Only investments in education will lead to a further catch-up
In a nutshell
The East German economic convergence process is hardly progressing. The economic performance of East Germany stagnates between 70 and 80% of West Germany's level, depending on the statistical figure used. The productivity gap between East German companies and equivalent groups in the west remains even if firms of the same size of workforce and the same industry are compared.
Politicians' and economists' explanations for this development differ: While politicians are more likely to argue with the start-up difficulties, the lack of large-scale research firms and the break-up of the East German markets, scientists have brought lack of investment in education and research, the lack of internationality and insufficient innovations – and thus future-oriented arguments – to the forefront.
In the first half of the 1990's, policy focused on the build-up of physical infrastructure. East Germany's economic performance increased substantially. “This process benefited from transfers from West Germany, which is why productivity advanced faster compared to other transition countries such as Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic,” says Oliver Holtemöller, IWH Vice President. Today, the East-German physical infrastructure is on the same level as West Germany. However, the fact that the catch-up process has remained slow thus far, also in terms of the employment structure in East Germany, has other causes.
While the population in West Germany had been stagnating since the turn of the millennium and recently even increased, East Germany suffers a decline in population of about 15% since 2000 since many people left East Germany after the German unification. “On the one hand, the decline can be explained by natural demographic development. On the other hand, people still have better economic perspectives elsewhere and therefore move,” Oliver Holtemöller points out. Indeed, in 2015, the population increased in East Germany as well. But this is mainly due to the extraordinary influx of refugees who are distributed to the federal states of Germany according to a fixed ratio.
Insufficient investment in education and research
To improve the economic situation, it is essential to invest in education and research – from early childhood development to academic training. Education does not only enable people to participate in the labour market with equal chances but also fights poverty and unemployment, which is far more sustainable, for example, than the widespread minimum wage. Education is the key to innovation and productivity. The same is true for investments in research and development. In 2012, for example, Saxony-Anhalt spent just 1.5% in relation to GDP, which was the lowest number among all 16 German federal states.
Lack of internationality
The German economy is strongly oriented toward international markets. Here Saxony-Anhalt has a long way to go as an East German state – foreign sales as a percentage of the total sales the manufacturing sectors is about 30%, well below the national average of 45%.
“The partial manifestation of xenophobia aggravates the situation,” says Holtemöller. On the one hand, this is a negative location factor: For example, in Saxony-Anhalt, the number of right-wing criminal offenses is twelve times higher than in Hesse. This makes it extremely difficult to attract qualified specialists from foreign countries to settle in East Germany.
“A one-sided orientation toward physical capital and technology will not help to bring East Germany forward. The key future drivers are human capital, creativity and open-mindedness,” summarises the Vice President.
Publications on "East Germany"
Auswirkungen des gesetzlichen Mindestlohns im Handwerk in Sachsen-Anhalt
in: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftspolitik, No. 2, 2018
This paper examines the effects of the minimum wage introduction in Germany in 2015 on the skilled crafts sector in Saxony-Anhalt. Using novel survey data on the skilled crafts sector in Saxony-Anhalt, we examine three questions: (1) How many employees are affected by the minimum wage introduction in the skilled crafts sector in Saxony-Anhalt? (2) What are the effects of the minimum wage introduction? (3) How did firms react to wage increase? We find that about 8 % of all employees in the skilled crafts sector in Saxony-Anhalt are directly affected by the minimum wage introduction. A difference-in-difference estimation reveals no significant employment effects of the minimum wage introduction. We test for alternative adjustment strategies and observe a significant increase of output prices.
The Efficiency of Local Public-service Production: The Effect of Political Institutions
in: FinanzArchiv, No. 2, 2018
Reforms replacing municipal cooperations by centralized municipalities often aim at increasing municipal efficiency. Empirical evidence supporting this aim, however, is ambiguous. Our paper analyzes the effect of institutions on municipal efficiency. In particular, we distinguish two archetypal institutional settings, a centralized and a confederal one, and argue that bureaucrats in a centralized setting are able to increase the fiscal residual. Our empirical test case is the German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt. We test the effect of the institutional setup using the bootstrap approach suggested by Simar and Wilson (2007), concluding that a decentralized institutional setting improves the efficiency of municipal production.
Statistical presentation of international trade in the course of German unification
in: Klaus Voy (Ed.): Außenhandel und Globalisierung in gesamtwirtschaftlicher Sicht. Marburg: Metropolis, 2018
How did the German unification influence the development and the statistical presentation of he contemporary trade of the eastern and western part of Germany? The parallel presentation oft he regional gross domestic products and their demand components is he only way, to describe adequate the flow of goods and between both the two parts of the German economy as well as with the rest of the world.
The Minimum Wage Effects on Skilled Crafts Sector in Saxony-Anhalt
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 31, 2017
This paper examines the effects of the minimum wage introduction in Germany in 2015 on the skilled crafts sector in Saxony-Anhalt. Using novel survey data on the skilled crafts sector in Saxony-Anhalt, we examine three questions: (1) How many employees are affected by the minimum wage introduction in the skilled crafts sector in Saxony- Anhalt? (2) What are the effects of the minimum wage introduction? (3) How have firms reacted to wage increase? We find that about 8% of all employees in the skilled crafts sector in Saxony-Anhalt are directly affected by the minimum wage introduction. A difference-in-difference estimation reveals no significant employment effects of the minimum wage introduction. We test for alternative adjustment strategies and observe a significant increase of output prices.
Who Benefits from GRW? Heterogeneous Employment Effects of Investment Subsidies in Saxony Anhalt
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 27, 2017
The paper estimates the plant level employment effects of investment subsidies in one of the most strongly subsidized German Federal States. We analyze the treated plants as a whole, as well as the influence of heterogeneity in plant characteristics and the economic environment. Modifying the standard matching and difference-in-difference approach, we develop a new procedure that is particularly useful for the evaluation of funding programs with individual treatment phases within the funding period. Our data base combines treatment, employment and regional information from different sources. So, we can relate the absolute effects to the amount of the subsidy paid. The results suggest that investment subsidies have a positive influence on the employment development in absolute and standardized figures – with considerable effect heterogeneity.