Journal Article

The East-West gradient in spatial population development within Germany: temporary GDR legacy vs. longstanding spatial disparities

Klüsener, S., Zagheni, E.
Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, 47:4, 167–179 (2014)


Since Germany’s unification in 1990, the former communist eastern part has experienced substantial out-migration toward western Germany. This article explores whether this is predominantly a temporary phenomenon related to the post-communist transition crisis, or whether longstanding geographic disparities in economic development also play a role. In particular, we are interested in whether long-term trends are shaped by the fact that parts of western Germany belong to the so-called European dorsal that has long been the most important center of economic activity in Europe. We address the question by investigating spatial population trends over the last two centuries. Findings suggest that longstanding geographical disparities are relevant. However, prior to 1945, population concentration in western Germany was not focused on the European dorsal region.

Keywords: Germany, population change, spatial analysis
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.