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The long-standing demographic East-West-divide in Germany


  • Sebastian Klüsener

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

  • Joshua R. Goldstein

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)


Over the last decades numerous studies have dealt with demographic differences between the former communist eastern part of Germany and western Germany. Although the demography of these two regions has converged with respect to mortality and overall fertility levels, non-marital births are the norm in eastern Germany but the exception in western Germany. A number of explanations, stemming from the policy and socio-economic conditions of eastern and western Germany in recent decades, have been put forth. Here, we show that the divide in demographic behavior regarding fertility and marriage pre-dates the division of Germany into a communist east and (capitalist) west. Indeed, the areas in eastern Germany that formed the German Democratic Republic had in average roughly twice the level of non-marital fertility from at least since the middle of the 19th century. The persistence of the past suggests that explanations depending on current conditions are likely to be incomplete and that convergence, if it happens, will be a process lasting many decades or even centuries.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian Klüsener & Joshua R. Goldstein, 2012. "The long-standing demographic East-West-divide in Germany," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2012-007, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2012-007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Brienna Perelli‐Harris & Wendy Sigle‐Rushton & Michaela Kreyenfeld & Trude Lappegård & Renske Keizer & Caroline Berghammer, 2010. "The Educational Gradient of Childbearing within Cohabitation in Europe," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 36(4), pages 775-801, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christine Schnor, 2014. "The Effect of Union Status at First Childbirth on Union Stability: Evidence from Eastern and Western Germany," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 30(2), pages 129-160, May.

    More about this item


    German Empire; Germany; Germany/FRG; Germany/GDR; family formation; fertility; historical analysis; nuptiality; spatial analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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