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East Germany, West Germany, and Their Mezzogiorno Problem: A Parable for European Economic Integration

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  • Hughes Hallett, A J
  • Ma, Yue

Abstract

Economic and monetary reunification in Germany has proved to be more expensive than previously thought--and not jus t for the Germans. If a "Mezzogiorno problem" of continuing fiscal transfers to the East, and possible migration flows westwards, are t o be avoided, then there has to be convergence in productivity levels. This paper analyzes possible convergence paths, and the policy regim es which accelerate convergence. The intention is to illustrate the (albeit less extreme) problems facing a European monetary union of asymmetric and incompletely converged economies. Working from first principles, or with the aid of an econometric model, shows that convergence sufficient to avoid a Mezzogiorno problem is likely to b e slow: perhaps 30-40 years in the German case, despite very fast grow th in the East. Second, it is not clear that the process is incentive compatible: a very substantial part of the servicing and subsidizing costs have to be paid by other (non-German) economies in the union, without any obvious compensating benefits. Third, to reduce the need for continuing transfers actually requires a policy which promotes price and wage flexibility in the depressed region. That appears to run counter to the current market integration within Europe. Such "unpleasant arithmetic" is an important contribution to the monetary union debate because without it, the smooth running of a union of incompletely converged economies will certainly be compromised. Copyright 1993 by Royal Economic Society.

Suggested Citation

  • Hughes Hallett, A J & Ma, Yue, 1993. "East Germany, West Germany, and Their Mezzogiorno Problem: A Parable for European Economic Integration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(417), pages 416-428, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:103:y:1993:i:417:p:416-28
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    Cited by:

    1. Hughes Hallett, A. & Ma, Y. & Melitz, J., 1996. "Unification and the policy predicament in Germany," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 519-544, October.
    2. Smolny Werner, 2009. "Wage Adjustment, Competitiveness and Unemployment – East Germany after Unification," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 229(2-3), pages 130-145, April.
    3. C. Hefeker, 1994. "German Monetary Union, the Bundesbank and the EMS collapse," Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Quarterly Review, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, vol. 47(191), pages 379-398.
    4. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Pierre Villa, 1994. "La réunification allemande du point de vue de la politique économique," Working Papers 1994-09, CEPII research center.
    5. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Richter, Christian, 2004. "Estimating an equilibrium exchange rate for the dollar and other key currencies," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 1117-1144, December.
    6. Keller, Wolfgang, 2000. "From socialist showcase to Mezzogiorno? Lessons on the role of technical change from East Germany's post-World War II growth performance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 485-514, December.
    7. Easterlin, Richard A. & Plagnol, Anke C., 2008. "Life satisfaction and economic conditions in East and West Germany pre- and post-unification," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 433-444, December.
    8. Franz, Wolfgang & Heidbrink, Gustav W. & Smolny, Werner, 1993. "The impact of German unification on West Germany's goods and labor market: A macroeconometric disequilibrium model in action," Discussion Papers 7, University of Konstanz, Center for International Labor Economics (CILE).
    9. Fabio Canova & Morten Ravn, 2000. "The Macroeconomic Effects of German Unification: Real Adjustments and the Welfare State," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(3), pages 423-460, July.
    10. Claro, Sebastian, 2006. "Supporting inefficient firms with capital subsidies: China and Germany in the 1990s," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 377-401, June.
    11. Pacheco, Luís Miguel, 2000. "Fiscal Federalism, EMU and Shock Absorption Mechanisms: A Guide to the Literature," European Integration online Papers (EIoP), European Community Studies Association Austria (ECSA-A), vol. 4, March.
    12. Falko Juessen, 2009. "A distribution dynamics approach to regional GDP convergence in unified Germany," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 627-652, December.
    13. Demertzis, Maria & Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Schermer, Nicolien, 2009. "Europeanization or globalization? Transnational wage bargaining and the distribution of activity in European labor markets," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 177-192, August.
    14. Michael Funke & Jörg Rahn, 2002. "How efficient is the East German economy? An exploration with microdata," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 10(1), pages 201-223, March.
    15. Andrea Boltho & Wendy Carlin & Pasquale Scaramozzino, 1999. "Will East Germany become a new Mezzogiorno?," Chapters,in: Economic Growth and Change, chapter 13 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. Michael Funke & Holge Strulik, 1999. "Growth and Convergence in a Two-Region Model of Unified Germany," CESifo Working Paper Series 206, CESifo Group Munich.
    17. Hefeker, Carsten, 1994. "GMU, EMU, and the Bundesbank: The political economy of recent EMS-crises," Discussion Papers, Series II 221, University of Konstanz, Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 178 "Internationalization of the Economy".
    18. Frank Siebern, 2000. "Better LATE? Instrumental Variables Estimation of the Returns to Job Mobility during Transition," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(3), pages 335-362, August.
    19. Enzo Dia, 2004. "The bank’s risk insurance and the EMU," Working Papers 72, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised May 2004.
    20. Ray Barrell & Dirk Willem te Velde, 2000. "Catching-up of East German Labour Productivity in the 1990s," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 1(3), pages 271-297, August.
    21. Stephan, J., 2000. "EU-Integration and Development Prospects of CEECs. The Productivity-Gap and Technological Structural Change," Papers 112, American Cairo - Economics and Political Sciences.
    22. Robert Brooks & Robert Faff & David Sokulsky, 2005. "The stock market impact of German reunification: international evidence," Applied Financial Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 31-42.
    23. Smolny Werner, 2012. "Cyclical Adjustment, Capital-labor Substitution and Total Factor Productivity Convergence – East Germany After Unification," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 232(4), pages 445-459, August.
    24. Falko Juessen, 2005. "A distribution dynamics approach to regional income convergence in reunified Germany," ERSA conference papers ersa05p411, European Regional Science Association.
    25. Michael C. Burda & Jennifer Hunt, 2001. "From Reunification to Economic Integration: Productivity and the Labor Market in Eastern Germany," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(2), pages 1-92.

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