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20 Years of German Unification: Evidence on Income Convergence and Heterogeneity

Author

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  • Brück, Tilman

    () (ISDC - International Security and Development Center)

  • Peters, Heiko

    () (Statistisches Bundesamt)

Abstract

We analyse the convergence and heterogeneity of living standards between East and West Germany since unification. Based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP), we compare total individual income of permanent adult residents, including retirees and the unemployed, of East and West Germany over the fifteen years for which data are available. Using a fixed effects vector decomposition method, we estimate the gross total income difference between East and West Germans taking unobserved heterogeneity into account. Our analysis demonstrates that the negative income gap has decreased from 33 per cent in 1992 to 22 per cent in 2002, rising again to 26 per cent in 2007. Hence some convergence took place in nominal terms since unification. Constructing income gaps by decennial cohorts, we discover that the most recent cohorts have the highest negative income gap. This probably reflects out-migration from East Germany by the young and highly skilled. On the basis of quantile regressions we find a positive income gap at the beginning of the 1990s for the lower income deciles (that is higher incomes in East Germany). This was due to retirees in the East with relative long employment histories receiving transfer payments by western standards. The income gap is insignificant when accounting for heterogeneity at the area level by including area level variables to our regression.

Suggested Citation

  • Brück, Tilman & Peters, Heiko, 2009. "20 Years of German Unification: Evidence on Income Convergence and Heterogeneity," IZA Discussion Papers 4454, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4454
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Jirí Vecerník, 2010. "Earnings Disparities and Income Inequality in CEE Countries: An Analysis of Development and Relationships," LIS Working papers 540, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    2. Michele Coscia & Timothy Cheston & Ricardo Hausmann, 2017. "Institutions vs. Social Interactions in Driving Economic Convergence: Evidence from Colombia," CID Working Papers 331, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    3. Anja Vatterrott, 2015. "Socialisation or Institutional Context: What Determines the First and Second Birth Behaviour of East–West German Migrants?," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 31(4), pages 383-415, October.
    4. Ralf Werner Koßmann, 2016. "Effectiveness of Social Capital in the Job Search Process," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 823, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Anja Vatterrott, 2011. "The fertility behaviour of East to West German migrants," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2011-013, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    6. Jan Kluge & Michael Weber, 2015. "Decomposing the German East-West wage gap," ifo Working Paper Series 205, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    unification; living standards; income inequality; distribution; GSOEP; Germany;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • P23 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Factor and Product Markets; Industry Studies; Population

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