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Germany - SOCIETY




Germany - Society

THE OPENING OF THE BERLIN WALL on November 9, 1989, was one of the most dramatic events of the post-World War II period. In the ensuing months, much more than just the graffiti-covered concrete panels of that infamous structure came crashing down during carnival-like celebrations. After four decades, the division of an entire continent, a nation, and a society came to an abrupt end.

A powerful force setting the revolutionary change in motion was a substantial movement of people from the German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany) westward. Throughout its forty-year history, the GDR had resorted to extreme measures to control its borders and halt the exodus of productive workers. The most extreme of these measures was the erection in 1961 of the Berlin Wall to check the sustained movement of East Germans to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, or West Germany), whose booming economy had created millions of new jobs. Nearly three decades later, for a period of several years beginning in the summer of 1989, the appeal of West Germany, even with its economy mired in recession, prompted another wave of migration of more than 700,000 East Germans, most between the ages of eighteen and thirty.

The FRG's absorption of the GDR in 1990 enlarged its area by about 30 percent and increased its population about 20 percent. Integrating this new territory has proven to be a Herculean task. Prior to unification, West Germans enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the world and a per capita income exceeding that of the United States. East Germans were prosperous by the standards of the communist world but had a living standard considerably below that of Western Europe. As the costs of unification have accumulated, the time when easterners will attain the standard of living of westerners has receded further into the future.

In the early 1990s, the five new eastern states (Länder ; sing., Land ) experienced substantial depopulation as a result of a plummeting birth rate and the internal migration of eastern Germans to the west. All social groups in the east were affected by the hasty merger, but the position of women was even more negatively affected. In particular, the rapid privatization of the socialist command economy led to much unemployment among women and the dismantling of an extensive child-care system. The east's elderly, who generally had incomes and savings much below their counterparts in the western Länder , also suffered hardship.

Unification inevitably revealed a series of unpleasant surprises about the closed economy and society of what had been East Germany. One of the most distressing was the deplorable state of the environment. Among the world's most environmentally conscious peoples, West Germans were shocked by the levels of ecological damage in the east. Environmental degradation, most noticeably badly polluted air and water, was perhaps a more important cause of the inequalities in living standards between east and west than smaller living quarters and lower wages. Surveying the dilapidated infrastructure and housing stock, observers dubbed the newly incorporated territory "Germany's Appalachia."

By mid-1995 it appeared that the physical and administrative mergers of the two German states would be far easier to accomplish than the social aspect of the union. In the postwar period, the two Germanys had assiduously developed two mutually exclusive models of society. Thus, the major challenge lay in harmonizing and integrating these societies, which were only gradually emerging from the long shadows cast by four decades of separate development in antagonistic systems.

Germany - Population

The population of Germany manifests trends characteristic of most advanced industrial countries: lower marriage rates, delayed marriage and child-bearing, low fertility rates, small household size, high divorce rates, and extended life expectancy. The population of indigenous Germans has been in decline since 1972 in the west and since 1969 in the east because the number of births has not kept pace with the number of deaths. In 1990 only five of the sixteen Länder registered growth in population because of natural increase.

Household size decreased from 3.0 persons in 1950 to 2.3 in 1990. Marriage rates have slackened, while divorce rates have risen or remained stable at high rates. In the late 1980s, almost one-third of all marriages ended in divorce. Infant mortality has steadily declined, and life expectancy has risen, albeit more slowly in eastern Germany. As in the United States, a greater proportion of the population is moving into advanced age. In 1871 only 4.6 percent of the population was sixty-five years of age or older. By 1939 that proportion had risen to 7.8 percent, and by 1992 it had risen to about 15 percent. By 2000 it is estimated that one-quarter of the population will be sixty or older.

Since the 1950s, the population of Germany has become more diverse. Millions of foreigners have migrated to Germany, seeking employment, citizenship, or asylum. In contrast to the native population, foreigners in Germany tend to have more children and larger households. In 1988 their average household size was 3.5 persons. Depending upon their origins and social status, foreigners in Germany have been integrated into society in widely varying degrees.

<>Historical Background
<>Fertility
<>Age-Gender Distribution
<>Mortality
<>Population Distribution and Urbanization
<>Immigration
<>Ethnic Minorities



Updated population figures for Germany.

Germany - Population - Historical Background

Since the first unification of Germany in 1871 to form the German Empire, the population and territorial expanse of Germany have fluctuated considerably, chiefly as a result of gains and losses in war. At the time of its founding, the empire was home to some 41 million people, most of whom lived in villages or small towns. As industrialization and urbanization accelerated over the next forty years, the population increased significantly to 64.6 million, according to the 1910 census. About two-thirds of this population lived in towns with more than 2,000 inhabitants, and the number of large cities had grown from eight in 1871 to eighty-four in 1910. Stimulating population growth were improvements in sanitary and working conditions and in medicine. Another significant source of growth was an influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe, who came to Germany to work on farms and in mines and factories. This wave of immigrants, the first of several groups that would swell Germany's population in the succeeding decades, helped compensate for the millions of Germans who left their country in search of a better life, many of whom went to the United States.

At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the population of Germany had reached about 68 million. A major demographic catastrophe, the war claimed 2.8 million lives and caused a steep decline in the birth rate. In addition, the 1919 Treaty of Versailles awarded territories containing approximately 7 million German inhabitants to the victors and to newly independent or reconstituted countries in Eastern Europe.

In the 1930s, during the regime of Adolf Hitler, a period of expansion added both territory and population to the Third Reich. Following the annexation of Austria in 1938 and the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia) in 1939, German territory and population encompassed 586,126 square kilometers and 79.7 million people, according to the 1939 census. The census found that women still outnumbered men (40.4 million to 38.7 million), despite a leveling trend in the interwar period.

The carnage of World War II surpassed that of World War I. German war losses alone were estimated at 7 million, about half of whom died in battle. Ruined, defeated, and divided into zones of occupation, a much smaller Germany emerged in 1945 with a population about the same as in 1910. In the immediate postwar period, however, more than 12 million persons--expelled Germans and displaced persons--immigrated to Germany or used the country as a transit point en route to other destinations, adding to the population.

By 1950 the newly established Federal Republic of Germany had a population of about 50 million, more than 9 million of whom were "expellees." The German Democratic Republic had about 4 million newcomers and 14 million natives. Most of the expellees came from East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, and the Sudetenland, all one-time German territories held by other countries at the end of World War II. The majority of the settlers in West Germany remained, found work in the rapidly recovering economy, and in time were successfully integrated into the society. Between 1950 and 1989, West Germany's population grew from 50 million to 62.1 million. Resettled Germans and refugees from former eastern territories and their families constituted approximately 20 percent of the country's population. From its earliest years, West Germany had become either a temporary or a final destination for millions of migrants. Yet despite this influx, the country did not develop an identity as a country of immigration as did, for example, the United States or Canada.

The situation in East Germany was much different. From its founding in 1949, the GDR struggled to stabilize its population and thwart emigration. In the course of its forty-year history, almost one-quarter of East Germany's population fled the state to settle in West Germany. In the 1950s alone, more than 2 million people moved west, a migration that triggered the regime's radical solution in August 1961--the construction of the Berlin Wall. During most of its existence, the only segment of East Germany's population permitted to leave for West Germany were retirees, whose resettlement there was unofficially encouraged to reduce the GDR's pension payments. As a result, the number of persons sixty years of age and older in the GDR fell from 22.1 percent in 1970 to 18.3 percent in 1985 and made the East German population younger than that of West Germany.

Deprived of a regular supply of workers by the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Federal Republic in the 1960s absorbed yet another wave of migrants. Laborers were recruited through agreements with seven countries: Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Tunisia, and Morocco. Between 1955 and 1973, the number of foreign workers, called guest workers (Gastarbeiter ) to emphasize the intended temporary nature of their contracts, grew from about 100,000 to about 2.5 million. Originally brought in for three-year shifts, most workers--mainly single men--remained and made a valuable contribution to the booming West German economy. In the early 1970s, however, a recession brought on by the international energy crisis slowed the West German economy; the importing of workers officially came to an end in 1973.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, the fourth and most controversial wave of immigrants to West Germany were asylum-seekers and political refugees--ethnic Germans from Poland, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and territories belonging to the former Soviet Union and also East Germans who moved west as the GDR collapsed. Many Germans were angered by the financial and social costs these immigrants required because they believed many asylum-seekers were drawn to Germany more by the desire for a better standard of living than by the need to escape political oppression. Many ethnic Germans hardly seemed German: some did not even speak German.


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Germany - Fertility

Despite the Berlin Wall and the fortified boundary that divided them, the two Germanys had many similar demographic developments in the postwar period. In the late 1950s and especially in the 1960s, both Germanys experienced a "baby boom," stimulated by increased economic prosperity and a heightened sense of security. During the second half of the 1960s, East Germany's population grew slightly, an unusual occurrence. In West Germany, the absolute peak in births, 1.3 million, was reached in 1965. In that year, births outnumbered deaths by 417,504.

After the baby boom, both countries experienced periods of zero population growth when the annual number of births failed to compensate for the annual number of deaths. As of 1993, with the exclusion of foreigners' births, deaths have outnumbered births every year since 1976 in the old Länder . Since 1986 the same has been true for the new Länder . When the West German total fertility rate reached its historic peacetime low of fewer than 1.3 children per woman of child-bearing age in 1985, popular newsmagazines caused a sensation with cover stories that warned of the eventual disappearance of the Germans. In the former GDR, a pronatalist policy temporarily had modest success in boosting the birth rate in the mid-1970s, but the population declined there for two reasons: emigration and low fertility. This was especially noticeable after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 when emigration soared. Low fertility also continued to be a problem. Between 1989 and 1991, eastern Germany's total fertility rate fell by 38 percent. In 1991 the rate was 0.98, well below West Germany's lowest level.

Although its population was just one-fifth that of West Germany, until 1986 East Germany officially topped in absolute terms West Germany in both the number of births outside marriage and the number of abortions. This situation was accounted for in part by a chronic lack of birth control choices in the former Soviet bloc and the practice of using abortion as a regular means of curbing unwanted pregnancies. In 1988 one-third of all births in the GDR were to unwed mothers, whereas in the FRG only one-tenth were. The trend of out-of-wedlock births in the east continued to increase after unification. By 1992 nearly 42 percent of the babies born in the new Länder were to single mothers, compared with 12 percent in the old Länder .

Until mid-1993, when a more restrictive West German law came into effect, the eastern section of Germany recognized the right of abortion on demand. The highest rate was reached in 1972, when one-third of pregnancies were aborted. By 1989 the rate had declined, but the probability of an abortion was still one in every four pregnancies. In the old Länder , legal abortions were restricted to special circumstances based on such factors as the physical or mental health of the mother or fetus. In 1989 West Germany officially registered 75,297 abortions, compared with about 74,000 for East Germany. Social, cultural, and economic factors accounted for the differences in frequency of abortion and extramarital birth rates.

Following unification, a trend termed demographic paralysis was observed in the former East Germany when the number of births fell by 50 percent between 1990 and 1993. From 1988 to mid-1993, the crude birth rate fell from 12.9 per 1,000 to 5.3 per 1,000, an abrupt and precipitous decline unmatched in an industrial society in peacetime. Especially hard hit by skyrocketing unemployment and adrift in an alien market economy, record numbers of women in the new Länder stopped having children. Some reports indicated that by the summer of 1993 as many as two-thirds of working women in the east had lost their jobs since unification. In that same year, the marriage rate fell by half.


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Germany - Age-Gender Distribution

In the early 1990s, an age-gender distribution pyramid of unified Germany's population displayed at its apex the legacy of heavy war casualties: a preponderance of elderly women too great to be explained by women's greater longevity. Official statistics show that in 1990 there were approximately 2.7 million more females than males (41.2 million versus 38.5 million) in Germany. In the same year, so many wives had outlived their husbands, either because of war deaths or because of the lower life expectancy of males, that the 4.9 million elderly widows in the country accounted for approximately 6 percent of the total population. Population specialists have forecast the transformation of the pyramid into a mushroom, as the effect of slackening birth rates pushes the population bulge higher up the age categories. In 1990 about 50 percent of the population was under thirty-seven years of age.

The progressive aging of Germany's population has been rapid. In 1970 those aged seventeen or younger made up 27.2 percent of the population, those aged eighteen to sixty-five accounted for 59.1 percent, and those aged sixty-five and older were 13.7 percent. By 1990 these shares had changed to 19.2 percent, 65.8 percent, and 15 percent, respectively. The implications of this trend for social welfare and security are a cause of concern. In the early 1990s, one pensioner was financed by three employees. If present trends continue, forecasts indicate that by 2030 as much as 28 percent of Germany's population will be elderly, and there will be a 1:1 ratio between pensioners and workers.


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Germany - Mortality

In the postwar period, the former GDR developed a comprehensive health care system that made steady advances in reducing infant mortality and extending life expectancy for both men and women. Early in the postwar period, life expectancy in some categories was actually longer for East Germans than for West Germans, and infant mortality was lower until 1980. However, starting in the mid-1970s, West Germany began to register longer life expectancies in every age-group, and after 1980 the infant mortality rate dropped below that of East Germany. In 1988 infant mortality in West Germany was 7.6 per 1,000 live births and 8.1 per 1,000 in East Germany.

The better health and longevity of West Germans probably stemmed from an increased interest in quality of life issues, personal health, and the environment. East Germans, in contrast, suffered the ill effects of the Soviet model of a traditional rust-belt industrial economy, with minimal concern for workers' safety and health and wanton disregard of the need to protect the environment. Improving environmental conditions and a more health-conscious way of living should gradually reduce remaining health differences among Germans. In mid-1995 unified Germany had an estimated mortality rate of about eleven per 1,000, and life expectancy was estimated at 76.6 years (73.5 years for males and 79.9 years for females). The major causes of death were the same as those of other advanced countries.


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Germany - Population Distribution and Urbanization

Following unification, the Federal Republic encompassed 356,958 square kilometers and was one of the largest countries in Europe. With about 81.3 million people in mid-1995, it ranked second behind Russia in population among the countries of Europe. Unification actually reduced the Federal Republic's population density, however, because East Germany, which had a large rural area, was more sparsely populated. With an average of 228 persons per square kilometer in late 1993, unified Germany ranked third in population density among European countries. It ranked behind the Netherlands and Belgium, which had 363 and 329 persons per square kilometer, respectively.

Germany's population density varies greatly. The most densely populated Länder are Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen, with densities of 3,898, 2,236, and 1,697 persons per square kilometer, respectively, at the end of 1992. The least densely populated are two new Länder , Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg, both mostly rural in character. They had population densities of eighty and eighty-six persons per square kilometer, respectively, at the end of 1992. Other Länder are closer to the national average: the largest Land , Bavaria, with 167 persons per square kilometer, is mostly rural, but its capital is the large city of Munich; Rhineland-Palatinate, with 196 persons per square kilometer, is also mostly rural but has numerous heavily populated areas along the Rhine; and Saxony, with 252 persons per square kilometer, also has a number of heavily populated areas.

The Land with the most population, one-fifth of the nation's total, is North Rhine-Westphalia. With a population density of 519 persons per square kilometer at the end of 1992, it is the most heavily settled of all Länder , with the exception of the three city Länder of Bremen, Hamburg, and Berlin. North Rhine-Westphalia's density is caused by its many cities; several dozen of these cities have populations above 100,000, including five with populations above 500,000. Many of these cities are located so close together that they form one of Europe's largest urban agglomerations, the Ruhrstadt (Ruhr City), with a population of about 5 million.

The Federal Republic has few very large cities and many medium-sized ones, a reflection of the centuries when the name Germany designated a geographical area consisting of many small and medium-sized states, each with its own capital. Berlin, by far the largest city, with a population of 3.5 million at the end of 1993, is certain to grow in population as more of the government moves there in the second half of the 1990s and as businesses relocate their headquarters to the new capital. Some estimates predict that Greater Berlin will have a population of 8 million by early in the twenty-first century.

Berlin already dwarfs the only other cities having more than 1 million inhabitants: Hamburg with 1.7 million and Munich with 1.3 million. Ten cities have populations between 500,000 and 1 million, seventeen between 250,000 and 500,000, and fifty-four between 100,000 and 250,000. In the early 1990s, about one-third of the population lived in cities with 100,000 residents or more, one-third in cities and towns with populations between 50,000 and 100,000, and one-third in villages and small towns.

Other densely populated areas are located in the southwest. They are Greater Stuttgart; the Rhine-Main area with its center of Frankfurt am Main; and the Rhine-Neckar region with its center in Mannheim. The greater Nuremberg and Hanover regions are also significant population centers. The new Länder are thinly settled except for Berlin and the regions of Dresden-Leipzig and Chemnitz-Zwickau.

Urban areas in the east are more densely populated than those in the west because the GDR saw little of the suburbanization seen in West Germany. As a result, there is a greater contrast between urban and rural areas in the new Länder than in the west. West Germany's suburbanization, however, is not nearly as extensive as that experienced by the United States after the end of World War II. Compared with cities in the United States, German cities are fairly compact, and their inhabitants can quickly reach small villages and farmlands.

Germany's population growth has been slow since the late 1960s. Many regions have shown little or no growth, or have even declined in population. The greatest growth has been in the south, where the populations of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria each increased by well over 1 million between 1970 and 1993. (Each had also grown by over 1 million in the 1960s.) North Rhine-Westphalia, which had grown by 1 million in the 1960s, added another 750,000 to its population between 1970 and 1993, a small increase, given a total population of nearly 18 million at the end of 1993. Bremen, Hamburg, and the Saarland experienced some population loss between 1970 and 1993. With the exception of united Berlin, all the new Länder lost population between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of 1993. In general, this development reflected long-term trends in East Germany, although the rate of decline has been higher since unification.


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Germany - Immigration

Immigration has been a primary force shaping demographic developments in the two Germanys in the postwar period (see Historical Background, this ch.). After the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the immigration flow, first into West Germany and later into united Germany, consisted mainly of workers from southern Europe. In addition, the immigrants included several other groups: a small but steady stream of East German immigrants (Übersiedler ) during the 1980s that exploded in size in 1990 (389,000) but by 1993 had fallen by more than half (172,000) and was somewhat offset by movement from west to east (119,000); several million ethnic Germans (Aussiedler ) from East European countries, especially the former Soviet Union; and several million persons seeking asylum from political oppression, most of whom were from East European countries.

Foreign Residents

As of early 1994, approximately 6.8 million registered foreigners resided in Germany. Turks made up the largest group (1.9 million), followed by immigrants from the former Yugoslavia (930,000), Italians (565,000), Greeks (350,000), Poles (260,000), and Austrians (185,000). About 25 percent of these foreign residents, most of whom were born in Germany, are under the age of eighteen. Because of the higher birth rate of foreigners, one of every ten births in Germany is to a foreigner. However, because recruiting of Gastarbeiter stopped in 1973 at the onset of a worldwide recession, most foreign workers are middle-aged and have lived in Germany for several decades.

The foreign population is not distributed evenly. More than two-thirds live in the Länder of North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, and Bavaria, where in 1990 they made up 9, 10, and 7 percent of the population, respectively. Foreigners live mainly in urban areas; in 1989 approximately 23 percent of foreign residents lived in Hamburg and Berlin. Foreigners often live in particular areas of large cities. (For example, Kreuzberg in Berlin and Kalk in Cologne both have large Turkish communities.) There are few foreigners in the new Länder . Of the roughly 190,000 foreigners living in the former GDR in 1989 because of work contracts, many have since been repatriated to Vietnam, Mozambique, Cuba, and other developing countries that were friendly to the GDR regime.

Foreigners began arriving in West Germany in large numbers in the 1960s after the construction of the Berlin Wall ended migration from East Germany. Recruited mainly from a number of countries in southern Europe, Gastarbeiter were not expected to stay beyond the terms of their work permits. However, many opted to remain in West Germany and subsequently brought their families there to live. As a result, and owing to higher birth rates, the foreign population in Germany has increased substantially. By offering financial incentives, West German authorities hoped to encourage some Gastarbeiter to return to their native countries, but relatively few took advantage of these provisions. A tightening of entry restrictions also caused many to remain in Germany rather than risk not being readmitted after spending time in their home country.

Although no longer recruited abroad, Germany's foreign residents remain vital to the economy, parts of which would shut down if they were to depart. They also contribute to the country's welfare and social insurance programs by paying twice as much in taxes and insurance premiums as they receive in benefits. In the long term, their presence may be seen as vital because they have a positive birth rate. The birth rate among native Germans is so low that some studies have estimated that Germany will require approximately 200,000 immigrants a year to maintain its population into the next century and support its array of social welfare benefits.

Most Germans do not see their country as a land of immigration like the United States or Canada, and no demographic or social issue has generated greater controversy than the presence of foreigners in the Federal Republic. In an opinion poll taken in 1982, two-thirds of West Germans said that there were too many foreigners in Germany, and one-half thought that foreigners should be sent back to their countries of origin. In 1992 another poll found that the "foreigner problem" ranked as the most serious issue for western Germans and was third in importance for eastern Germans.

According to the foreigners law that went into effect in mid-1993, foreigners living in Germany for fifteen years may become German citizens if they have no criminal record and renounce their original citizenship. Young foreigners who have resided eight years in Germany may become citizens if they have attended German schools for six years and apply for citizenship between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three. Usually, however, German citizenship depends not on where one is born (ius solis ) but on the nationality of the father or, since 1974, on the mother (ius sanguinis ). Thus, to many, German citizenship depends on being born German and cannot rightfully be acquired through a legal process. This notion makes it practically impossible for naturalized citizens or their children to be considered German. Some reformers advocate eliminating the concept of German blood in the 1913 law regulating citizenship, but the issue is an emotional one, and such a change has little popular support.

Ethnic Germans

Ethnic Germans have immigrated to Germany since the end of World War II. At first, these immigrants were Germans who had resided in areas that had formerly been German territory. Later, the offspring of German settlers who in previous centuries had settled in areas of Eastern Europe and Russia came to be regarded as ethnic Germans and as such had the right to German citizenship according to Article 116 of the Basic Law. Because they became citizens immediately upon arrival in Germany, ethnic Germans received much financial and social assistance to ease their integration into society. Housing, vocational training, and many other types of assistance, even language training--because many did not know the language of their forebears--were liberally provided.

With the gradual opening of the Soviet empire in the 1980s, the numbers of ethnic Germans coming to West Germany swelled. In the mid-1980s, about 40,000 came each year. In 1987 the number doubled and in 1988 doubled again. In 1990 nearly 400,000 ethnic Germans came to the Federal Republic. In the 1991-93 period, about 400,000 ethnic Germans settled in Germany. Since January 1993, immigration of ethnic Germans has been limited to 220,000 per year.

Because this influx could no longer be managed, especially because of the vast expense of unification, restrictions on the right of ethnic Germans to return to Germany became effective in January 1991. Under the new restrictions, once in Germany ethnic Germans are assigned to certain areas. If they leave these areas, they lose many of their benefits and are treated as if they were foreigners. The government has also established programs to encourage the estimated several million ethnic Germans who still live in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to remain there. Although ethnic Germans are entitled to German citizenship by virtue of their bloodlines, to many Germans they do not seem German, and their social integration has frequently been difficult.

Asylum-Seekers

To atone for the crimes of the Third Reich, Article 16/2 of West Germany's Basic Law offers liberal asylum rights to those suffering political persecution. Until the 1980s, relatively few refugees took advantage of this provision. But in the second half of the decade, a new class of "jet-age refugees" began to make its way to Europe and especially to West Germany, which accepted more than any other West European country. In the mid-1980s, many refugees came from Iran and Lebanon. By 1991 most refugees originated in regions of war-torn former Yugoslavia, Romania, or Turkey. From 1986 to 1989, about 380,000 refugees sought asylum inWest Germany. By comparison, in the 1990-92 period, nearly 900,000 people sought refuge in a united Germany.

Although only about 5 percent of requests for asylum are approved, slow processing and appeals mean that many refugees remain in Germany for years. Because financial aid is also provided for the refugees' living expenses, their presence has become a burden on federal and local government. The resulting social tensions made imperative an amendment to the constitutional provision regarding asylum. After heated debate, in 1993 the Bundestag passed legislation that amended the Basic Law and tightened restrictions on granting asylum. One important change is that asylum-seekers are no longer to be admitted into Germany if they have applied from a third country. In addition, more funds are to be allotted to processing applications, so that asylum-seekers remain in Germany for shorter periods.


Germany
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Germany - Ethnic Minorities

In the early 1990s, there were between 50,000 and 60,000 Gypsies in Germany. They were divided into two groups: the Sinti, who have lived for hundreds of years in Germany and who have largely adopted conventional modes of living and employment; and the Roma, many of whom fled Romania following the 1989 revolution that toppled the Nicolae Ceausescu regime. The lifestyle and work habits of the mobile Roma clash with those of most Germans. As a result, in 1992 the German government signed an agreement with Romania providing for the repatriation of thousands of Roma in exchange for cash payments to be used for housing and job training.

Several other minority groups, officially recognized and their languages protected, also live in Germany. For more than 1,000 years, the Sorbs, a Slavic nationality, have lived as an ethnic minority in Brandenburg and Saxony. As of 1993, there were about 120,000 Sorbs in Germany. In addition, about 60,000 Danish speakers live in Schleswig-Holstein, a reminder of the area's Danish past; and about 12,000 speakers of the Frisian language live on the Frisian Islands and on the northwestern coast.

Germany once had a prosperous and largely assimilated Jewish population of about 600,000. In the 1930s and 1940s, most German Jews were exiled, were imprisoned, or perished in Nazi death camps. By the early 1990s, Germany's Jewish community was only about 40,000. Its numbers were growing, however, as the result of the immigration of some Israelis and Russian Jews. One of the most eloquent spokespersons for the rights of minorities and a tireless advocate for greater tolerance is the community's leader, Ignaz Bubnis.


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Germany - Women in Society

For centuries, a woman's role in German society was summed up and circumscribed by the three "K" words: Kinder (children), Kirche (church), and Küche (kitchen). Throughout the twentieth century, however, women have gradually won victories in their quest for equal rights. In 1919 they received the right to vote. Profound changes also were wrought by World War II. During the war, women assumed positions traditionally held by men. After the war, the so-called Trümmerfrauen (women of the rubble) tended the wounded, buried the dead, salvaged belongings, and began the arduous task of rebuilding war-torn Germany by simply clearing away the rubble.

In West Germany, the Basic Law of 1949 declared that men and women were equal, but it was not until 1957 that the civil code was amended to conform with this statement. Even in the early 1950s, women could be dismissed from the civil service when they married. After World War II, despite the severe shortage of young men that made marriage impossible for many women, traditional marriage once again became society's ideal. Employment and social welfare programs remained predicated on the male breadwinner model. West Germany turned to millions of migrants or immigrants--including large numbers of GDR refugees--to satisfy its booming economy's labor requirements. Women became homemakers and mothers again and largely withdrew from employment outside the home.

In the east, however, women remained in the workforce. The Soviet-style system mandated women's participation in the economy, and the government implemented this key objective by opening up educational and vocational opportunities to women. As early as 1950, marriage and family laws also had been rewritten to accommodate working mothers. Abortion was legalized and funded by the state in the first trimester of pregnancy. An extensive system of social supports, such as a highly developed day-care network for children, was also put in place to permit women to be both mothers and workers. Emancipated "from above" for economic and ideological reasons, women in the east entered institutes of higher learning and the labor force in record numbers while still maintaining the household. East Germany had to rely on women because of its declining population; the situation was made more critical by the fact that most of those fleeing to West Germany were men.

Because of these developments, about 90 percent of East German women worked outside the home. They made up about half the membership in the two most important mass organizations of the former GDR--the Free German Trade Union Federation (Freier Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund--FDGB) and the Free German Youth (Freie Deutsche Jugend--FDJ). In 1988 slightly more than one-third of the membership of the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands--SED) consisted of women. In contrast, only about 4.4 percent of West German women were members of a political party.

After several decades of conforming to traditional social patterns, West German women began to demand changes. Following patterns in Europe and the United States, emancipation in the Federal Republic originated "from below," with women themselves. In the 1970s, the women's movement gathered momentum, having emerged as an outgrowth of student protests in the late 1960s (see Citizens' Initiative Associations, ch. 7). Rallying around the causes of equal rights (including the right to abortion, which was somewhat restricted in West Germany), the movement succeeded in having legislation passed in 1977 that granted a woman equal rights in marriage. A woman could work outside the home and file for divorce without her husband's permission. Divorce was permitted when the marriage partners could no longer be reconciled.

Women also made gains in education in both Germanys. By the mid-1960s, East German women accounted for about half of all secondary school graduates who had prepared to study at institutes of higher learning in the GDR; by the 1975-76 academic year, they were in the majority (53 percent). To assist women in completing their studies, an extensive support system, including supplementary payments and child care, was provided. Expanded educational opportunities for West German women were slower in coming and never equaled the levels reached in the east. Only in the early 1980s did West German women qualify for admission to universities in the same numbers as men. Although fewer than that number pursued college and university studies, between 1970 and 1989 the percentage of female students increased from 31 percent to 41 percent. Two factors were believed to be responsible for the discrepancy between eastern and western rates of attendance at institutes of higher learning: West German women had a stronger orientation toward traditional familial relations; and they had dimmer prospects for admission to particular academic departments and for professional employment after graduation.

Despite significant gains, discrimination remains in united Germany. Income inequalities persist: a woman's wages and salaries range between 65 percent and 78 percent of a man's for many positions. In most fields, women do not hold key positions. Generally, the higher the position, the more powerful is male dominance. For example, women are heavily represented in the traditional care-giving fields of health and education, but even in such fields there is a wide disparity between the number of females working in hospitals (75 percent of total staff) and schools (more than 50 percent) and the number of female physicians (4 percent) and principals (20 percent in the west and 32 percent in the east). In the late 1980s, only 5 percent of university professors in West Germany were women.

Although substantial barriers to equality of the sexes in Germany remain as a result of a persistently patriarchal family structure and work environment, women have managed to gain isolated high-profile victories. A separate national office for women's affairs was created in West Germany in 1980, and similar agencies have been established in most Länder in united Germany. Since the mid-1980s, offices responsible for working toward women's equality have been active, first in West Germany and after unification in the new Länder . The Equality Offices (Gleichstellungstellen ) have as one of their tasks ensuring that women occupy a more equitable share of positions in the public sector.

Some women have succeeded in reaching positions of power. One of the most successful women in politics in the 1990s is Rita Süssmuth, president of the Bundestag. In the field of industry, Birgit Breuel assumed the leadership, following the assassination of Detlev Rohwedder in April 1991, of the Treuhandanstalt (Trust Agency), the powerful agency charged with privatizing the former East German economy. Other influential and prominent German women in the mid-1990s are Marion von Dönhoff, coeditor of Die Zeit , and Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann, director of the Allensbach Public Opinion Institute. Yet despite this progress, a 1991 article in an influential weekly magazine made it clear how far women must go to achieve equality. The magazine's list of the 100 most powerful people in Germany included only four women.

Almost all segments of eastern German society encountered tremendous difficulty in the unification process, but women suffered the most. Some reports indicated that two-thirds of working women in the new Länder were unemployed, and many more were turned into part-time workers as a result of privatization, downsizing of firms, and elimination of support services such as day-care and after-school centers. To improve their prospects for employment, some women in eastern Germany reportedly were resorting to sterilization, one of the factors contributing to the steep decline in births from twelve per 1,000 in 1989 to 5.3 per 1,000 in 1993.

Among the issues that demonstrated differences between women of the old and new Länder , one of the most contentious was abortion. In 1991 there were about 125,000 registered abortions performed in Germany, about 50,000 of which were in the east. Although the number of registered abortions in both parts of Germany had been declining in recent years, the actual number of abortions was estimated at about 250,000. For a time following unification, the restrictive western and permissive eastern legislation on abortion continued in force. In June 1992, however, the Bundestag voted to ease abortion restrictions and to permit the procedure during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy with compulsory counseling. Resorting to what had been a successful policy in the early 1970s, those opposed to the new law, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, appealed to the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe to nullify the new law. Just before it was scheduled to take effect, the law was blocked when the court issued an injunction. Subsequently, a new restrictive law came to apply in all of Germany (see Political Developments since Unification, ch. 7).

Germany - Marriage and Family

Like most other advanced countries in the postwar era, Germany recorded fewer marriages, more divorces, and smaller families. In 1960 there were 690,000 marriages, compared with 516,000 in 1990. The total for 1993 amounted to only 442,000, but most of this decline was caused by a drop of than more 50 percent in the number of marriages in the new Länder between 1990 and 1993. Until 1990 the decline in marriages in East Germany had been appreciably greater than in West Germany (from 215,000 in 1950 to 137,000 in 1989, compared with 536,000 and 399,000 in the same years in West Germany), but not nearly as steep in the 1990-93 period. Just as the dramatic social changes brought to the new Länder by unification affected birth rates there, so they also affected marriages rates.

Another difference in marriage practices between the two Germanys had been that easterners marrying for the first time did so at an earlier age than westerners. Easterners did so, it is believed, because of their desire to have children and hence qualify for low-cost child care and housing benefits. Following unification this difference remained. In 1992 the average age at first marriage was 29.0 for men and 26.5 for women in the old Länder , compared with 27.1 for men and 25.1 for women in the new Länder . Since the mid-1970s, the average age at which people marry has slowly risen for both genders in both parts of Germany.

As the number of marriages declined, the frequency of divorce increased in both states. Between 1960 and 1990, the number of divorces in West Germany more than doubled, increasing from 49,000 to 123,000 and yielding a divorce rate of about 30 percent. Divorce was always more common in East Germany than it was in West Germany. The number of divorces roughly doubled between 1960 and 1988, going from 25,000 to 49,000. In 1986 there was a record divorce rate of 46 percent. Although home to only 20 percent of the total population, the new Länder accounted for 29 percent of all divorces in 1990. After unification, however, the incidence of divorce decreased greatly in the east, perhaps in response to the overall uncertainty and insecurity of future prospects for single mothers in unified Germany. In 1992 the number of divorces in the new Länder amounted to only 10,000. In 1993, however, this number rose to 18,000, an increase of 78 percent.

Despite the increasing likelihood of divorce, in 1990 about 89 percent of all families consisted of married couples, and about 70 percent of those of marriage age were married. In both east and west, however, the failure of these families to produce the necessary number of children for population replacement was striking. Of the 15 million married couples in the former West Germany, about 57 percent had children. Forty-seven percent of couples with children had one child, 38 percent had two children, and 13 percent had three or more children. In 1950 the average number of persons in German households was 3.0. By 1990 this figure had declined to 2.3. In 1991 four-person households accounted for 13 percent of the total number of households, three-person households for 16 percent, two-person households for 31 percent, and single-person households for 35 percent. In the early 1990s, only foreign families were regularly having two or more children, with the Turkish subgroup being the largest in terms of family size.

Like West Germany, East Germany had provided legislative protection for the family and married couples, together with generous maternity leave and pay provisions. In the east, however, it was assumed that the mother would rejoin the workforce soon after maternity leave, and an elaborate child-care system was put in place. Virtually all women could obtain excellent care for their children if they wished. In the west, many mothers gave up their careers or interrupted them for long periods following the birth of a child because child care was generally unavailable. As a result, in 1990 women of child-bearing age in the east had more children (1.67) than women in the west (1.42). Supported by the state, eastern women had long been accustomed to balancing child-rearing and a profession. After unification, however, the new Länder experienced a precipitous decline in births because of high unemployment, especially among women (see Fertility, this ch.).

By the mid-1990s, the newest trend in household formation was what became known as nonmarital living partnerships. Between 1972 and 1990, the number of such households increased sevenfold, to 963,000, or 2.7 percent of all households. Almost 90 percent of these were childless households. Most young people were opting to live together before deciding to marry. This factor pushed the average age at marriage higher.

Another sign of the movement away from the traditional concept of family and of the manifestation of sexual freedom was the rising number of out-of-wedlock births. In the late 1980s, about one in ten West German and three in ten East German births were to unmarried women.

In the postwar period, it became clear that marriage had lost its former position as the only legitimate locus for sexual activity. In the early 1990s, polls indicated that 60 percent of German sixteen-year-olds were sexually active, compared with 15 percent in the 1950s.

In the past, when regional differences were acute, convention held that marriages between a Prussian and a Bavarian, between a Catholic and a Protestant, and definitely between a Christian and a Jew were "mixed" marriages. In modern Germany, only unions between Germans and foreigners are considered mixed. Of 516,000 marriages in 1990, about 6 percent were between Germans and foreigners. Most often German women married Americans, Italians, Turks, and Yugoslavs, and German men married Yugoslavs, Poles, Filipinos, and Austrians. In 1974 legislation was passed conferring automatic citizenship on children born of these unions.

Germany - Housing

There is a wide range of housing stock in Germany, from mansions and country estates for the wealthy, to tents and welfare hotels for the needy and homeless. Most Germans live in self-contained apartments or in single-family houses. Single-story and two-story townhouse-like dwellings characterize the tidy neighborhoods of small towns and medium-sized cities, and high-rise apartment buildings are common in larger cities. In many communities, merchants, tradespeople, and shopkeepers continue to live above their stores, and clustered farmhouses still form the nucleus of many villages.

After World War II, West Germany faced a severe housing shortage. Not only had the war destroyed much of the housing, but the millions of refugees from the east had to find new accommodations. According to one estimate, there were 10 million dwellings for 17 million households. The housing shortage often forced several families to share a single dwelling. In the 1950s and 1960s, a tremendous surge in construction, supported heavily by the government, resulted in the construction of as many as 700,000 dwellings in a single year. Gradually, the housing crisis eased. The problems that persisted generally involved a shortage of affordable housing in urban areas. Housing conditions in East Germany also improved greatly. However, much of the housing was badly designed and poorly constructed, and even at the state's demise in 1990, the overall housing supply was inadequate.

Unification revealed significant differences in the quality, variety, and size of dwellings in the two Germanys. In West Germany, about 70 percent of the housing stock had been built after 1948, with 95 percent of the dwellings having their own bathrooms and 75 percent having central heating. In East Germany, 55 percent of the housing stock had been built before 1948, with only 75 percent of the dwellings having bathrooms and only 47 percent having central heating. In addition, much of the housing in East Germany was in poor condition because the authorities had maintained rents at such low levels that funds were not available for essential repairs.

In 1992 united Germany had approximately 34.5 million dwellings with 149 million rooms, for a total of 2.8 billion square meters of living space. Dwellings in the west were larger than those in the east. In 1992 dwellings in the old Länder had an average floor space of 82.7 square meters for an average of 35.1 square meters per person, compared with 64.5 square meters and an average of 29.0 square meters per person in the new Länder .

The federal government has responded with special measures to rectify housing problems in the new Länder , launching an ambitious program to upgrade and expand housing. By 1993 about 1.1 million units had been modernized. Specialists have estimated that bringing housing in the east up to western standards will require the construction of 140,000 new dwellings a year until 2005.

Unification also revealed significant differences with respect to home ownership. In the early 1990s, approximately 40 percent of residents owned their dwellings in the old Länder , compared with 25 percent in the new Länder .

Prior to unification, a housing shortage had developed in West Germany because of increased immigration and the rising number of single householders. The arrival of several million refugees, ethnic Germans, and eastern Germans coincided with a steep drop in the availability of inexpensive housing. Despite the construction of as many as 400,000 new dwellings each year, as of 1993 the need for housing outpaced the supply. A housing shortage exists because the country's 35 million households exceed the number of dwellings by about 500,000.

The housing shortage and a lack of available land for building in densely populated areas have driven up real estate prices. In 1992 a single-family free-standing house with 125 square meters of floor space cost DM300,000 in <"http://worldfacts.us/Germany-Dresden.htm">Dresden, DM450,000 in Hamburg, DM590,000 in Frankfurt am Main, DM800,000 in Berlin, and DM910,000 in Munich. In western Germany, the average price of building land was DM129 per square meter, compared with DM32 per square meter in the east.

Because decent housing is seen as a basic right in Germany, the government provides financial aid to households devoting too great a share of their income to housing costs. The aid can subsidize their rents or help pay mortgages. In the early 1990s, some 3 million households received this type of aid. Despite these programs, however, homelessness remains a problem. In the early 1990s, some specialists estimated the number of homeless at between 800,000 and 1 million, while others believed it to be as low as 150,000. The homeless receive aid from government and charitable organizations, which provide an array of social services and shelters (see Provisions of the Social Welfare System, ch. 4).

Germany - Religion

Roman Catholicism, one of Germany's two principal religions, traces its origins there to the eighth-century missionary work of Saint Boniface. In the next centuries, Roman Catholicism made more converts and spread eastward. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Knights of the Teutonic Order spread German and Roman Catholic influence by force of arms along the southern Baltic Coast and into Russia. In 1517, however, Martin Luther challenged papal authority and what he saw as the commercialization of his faith. In the process, Luther changed the course of European and world history and established the second major faith in Germany--Protestantism.

Religious differences played a decisive role in the Thirty Years' War. An enduring legacy of the Protestant Reformation and this conflict was the division of Germany into fairly distinct regions of religious practice. Roman Catholicism remained the preeminent faith in the southern and western German states, while Protestantism became firmly established in the northeastern and central regions. Pockets of Roman Catholicism existed in Oldenburg in the north and in areas of Hesse. Protestant congregations could be found in north Baden and northeastern Bavaria.

The unification of Germany in 1871 under Prussian leadership led to the strengthening of Protestantism. Otto von Bismarck sought to weaken Roman Catholic influence through an anti-Roman Catholic campaign, the Kulturkampf, in the early 1870s. The Jesuit order was prohibited in Germany, and its members were expelled from the country. In Prussia the "Falk laws," named for Adalbert Falk, Bismarck's minister of culture, mandated German citizenship and attendance at German universities for clergymen, state inspection of schools, and state confirmation of parish and episcopal appointments. Although relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the state were subsequently improved through negotiations with the Vatican, the Kulturkampf engendered in Roman Catholics a deep distrust of the empire and enmity toward Prussia.

Prior to World War II, about two-thirds of the German population was Protestant and the remainder Roman Catholic. Bavaria was a Roman Catholic stronghold. Roman Catholics were also well represented in the populations of Baden-Württemberg, the Saarland, and in much of the Rhineland. Elsewhere in Germany, especially in the north and northeast, Protestants were in the majority.

During the Hitler regime, except for individual acts of resistance, the established churches were unable or unwilling to mount a serious challenge to the supremacy of the state. A Nazi, Ludwig Müller, was installed as the Lutheran bishop in Berlin. Although raised a Roman Catholic, Hitler respected only the power and organization of the Roman Catholic Church, not its tenets. In July 1933, shortly after coming to power, the Nazis scored their first diplomatic success by concluding a concordat with the Vatican, regulating church-state relations. In return for keeping the right to maintain denominational schools nationwide, the Vatican assured the Nazis that Roman Catholic clergy would refrain from political activity, that the government would have a say in the choice of bishops, and that changes in diocesan boundaries would be subject to government approval. However, the Nazis soon violated the concordat's terms, and by the late 1930s almost all denominational schools had been abolished.

Toward the end of 1933, an opposition group under the leadership of Lutheran pastors Martin Niemöller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer formed the "Confessing Church." The members of this church opposed the takeover of the Lutheran Church by the Nazis. Many of its members were eventually arrested, and some were executed--among them, Bonhoeffer--by the end of World War II.

<>Postwar Christianity
<>Roman Catholicism
<>Protestantism
<>Free Churches
<>Orthodox Churches
<>Judaism
<>Islam

Germany - Postwar Christianity

The postwar division of Germany left roughly equal numbers of Roman Catholics and Protestants in West Germany. East Germany had five times as many Protestants as Roman Catholics. There the authorities waged a persistent and largely successful campaign to minimize the influence and authority of the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.

In the Federal Republic, freedom of religion is guaranteed by Article 4 of the Basic Law, and the churches enjoy a special legal status as corporate bodies. In theory, there is constitutional separation of church and state, but church financing complicates this separation. To support churches and their work, most Germans in the old Länder pay a voluntary church tax, amounting to an 8 or 9 percent surcharge on income tax paid. Living in a society known for consensus and conformity, few West Germans formally withdrew from the established churches before the 1980s and hence continued to pay the tax.

Beginning in the 1980s, negative attitudes toward the tax and the churches become more common, and people began leaving the churches in significant numbers. Between 1980 and 1992, about 1.0 million Roman Catholics and 1.2 million Protestants gave up their church memberships. A faltering economy and increased taxes caused many to withdraw for financial reasons. In a 1992 poll, approximately 42 percent of those queried stated that the church tax was "much too high"; 64 percent favored abolishing the tax and supporting the churches through voluntary contributions. Fourteen percent of those Roman Catholics and Protestants polled stated that they were likely to withdraw or definitely would withdraw from their church.

In a society increasingly materialist and secular, the spiritual and moral positions of the churches became irrelevant to many. Among the younger generation seeking autonomy and self-fulfillment, allegiance was no longer simply surrendered without question to institutions of authority. Attendance at services dropped off significantly, and the institution of the church quietly disappeared from the lives of many Germans.

In East Germany, although the constitution theoretically provided for freedom of religion, the Marxist-Leninist state placed formidable obstacles before those seeking to exercise that basic right. Enormous pressure was exerted on citizens to renounce religion. East Germans who practiced their religion were denied educational and professional opportunities, for example. Consequently, at unification the majority of East Germans were either not baptized or had left their church.

In the 1990s, polls in the new Länder revealed that more than 70 percent of East Germans did not believe in God. Young people were even less religious. Some polls found that only 16 percent of East German schoolchildren believed in God. An entire generation had been raised without the religious rituals that traditionally had marked life's milestones. Secular rituals had been substituted. For example, the Jugendweihe (youth dedication) gradually supplanted the Christian practice of confirmation.

After unification in 1990, there were nominally 30.2 million Protestants and 26.7 million Roman Catholics in united Germany. Roman Catholics and Protestants combined amounted to about 76 percent of the German population and 71 percent of the country's total population.

Although less extreme than in the past, attitudes toward religion continue to polarize German society. In the 1990s, especially in the western Länder , attitudinal differences separate many younger Germans with humanistic values (concern for the environment, the rights of women and minorities, and peace and disarmament issues) from an older generation who hold traditional religious values. Many others of the postwar generations have accepted the values of popular culture and consumerism and have left the churches because they no longer seem significant. Millions of Germans of all ages, however, continue to profess a religion for a variety of reasons, among them strong religious beliefs, social pressure to conform, preservation of educational and employment opportunities, support for essential church social-welfare activities, and (in the western Länder ) the enduring appeal of Christian rituals surrounding baptism, marriage, and burial.

As of 1995, it was difficult to determine to what extent Germans in the new Länder would return to religion. In the early 1990s, popular magazines featured stories about the "heathenization" of Germany. Although such a provocative characterization of trends seems exaggerated, the incorporation of the former East Germany did dilute religious influence in united Germany. Conversely, however, the opening of eastern Germany gave missionaries from the old Länder and from around the world the chance to rekindle religious fervor. In the old Länder , the churches have continued their vitally important work of operating an extensive network of hospitals, nursing homes, and other social institutions. The need for such services and facilities is greatest in the five new Länder , and the churches quickly stepped in to help.

More about <>Religion in Germany.

Germany - Roman Catholicism

With about 28.2 million members, the Roman Catholic Church in unified Germany is organized into five archdioceses, eighteen dioceses, three diocesan offices, and one apostolic administration. Two of the archdioceses are based in Bavaria (Munich/Freising and Bamberg) and two in North Rhine-Westphalia (Cologne and Paderborn). More than 57 percent of all German Roman Catholics live in these two Länder . Another 28 percent live in the three Länder of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, and Rhineland-Palatinate. Only about 900 of the church's 13,000 parishes and other pastoral centers are located in the new Länder . The number of Roman Catholics in East Germany declined from 2 million shortly after the war to 800,000 by 1992. Serving these Roman Catholics are two dioceses, one in Brandenburg (Berlin) and the other in Saxony (Dresden).

Between 1970 and 1989, the number of Roman Catholics attending Sunday mass in West Germany declined from 37 percent to 23 percent. Between 1970 and 1990, the number of annual baptisms fell from about 370,000 to around 300,000. Approximately 470,000 Roman Catholics officially left the church between 1985 and 1990. In the same period, about 25,000 returned to the church, and another 25,000 converted to other religions.

Despite the diminishing numbers of Roman Catholics, the church tax enables the Roman Catholic Church to remain strong financially. In 1992 the church's share of tax revenues amounted to approximately DM8.5 billion. An additional DM8 billion was received in the form of government subsidies, service payments, property, and contributions. Much of this support is returned to society through an extensive network of church-operated kindergartens, senior citizen centers, and hospitals. The main Roman Catholic charitable organization is the Deutscher Caritasverband, which had about 400,000 employees in 1992.

As the FRG has become an increasingly secular society, the centuries-old traditional authority of the Roman Catholic Church in matters of morality has declined, especially among German youth. Many German Roman Catholics routinely ignore the church and in particular the pope's positions on such key issues as birth control, premarital sex, divorce, and abortion. For years the number of ordinations in Germany has declined. To address this issue, most German Catholics favor permitting priests to marry, and many support the ordination of women.

Periodically, independent reformist clergymen challenge the church hierarchy and doctrine. Often they do so with the support of many German Catholics. In the 1970s, Hans Küng, a theologian at Tübingen University, used his position and charisma to criticize the idea of papal infallibility and other dogmas. In the early 1990s, major differences of opinion between the laity and church authorities were revealed by a clash between a reform-minded priest and the archbishop in Paderborn, the most conservative German diocese. For beliefs deemed contrary to Vatican policies and dogma, Father Eugen Drewermann was defrocked by Archbishop Johannes Degenhardt. In the tradition of Luther, Drewermann continued to express his unorthodox views outside the church--at universities and in the media, including talk shows. A 1992 survey indicated that among all Germans, Drewermann was more popular than Pope John Paul II.

More about <>Religion in Germany.

Germany - Protestantism

In the mid-1990s, most of the country's roughly 30 million Protestants were organized into twenty-four member churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland--EKD), headquartered in Hanover. Later in the decade, the church's headquarters is scheduled to relocate to Berlin. The mainline Protestant churches belong to one of three groups: Lutheran (ten); Reformed, or Calvinist (two); and United, or Lutheran-Calvinist (twelve). The largest number of congregations is in Saxony, Berlin, Brandenburg, Lower Saxony, Bavaria, Thuringia, and Baden-Württemberg. Protestant clergy are permitted to marry, and women are actively engaged in the ministry. One of the most prominent women in the EKD and in Germany in the mid-1990s was Maria Jepsen, bishop of Hamburg.

In the early 1990s, about 5 percent of German Protestants attended weekly services. Annual baptisms declined from about 346,000 in 1970 to around 257,000 in 1990. Of the 257,000 baptisms in 1990, only about 12 percent took place in the former East Germany. Out of 219,000 confirmations in 1990, about 10 percent involved East German youth. Like their Roman Catholic counterparts, Protestant churches are well supported by taxes and contributions. The EKD also runs numerous hospitals and other social institutions and is a vitally important member of the country's system of social welfare. The main Protestant charitable organization is the Diakonisches Werk; it has about 350,000 employees.

In East Germany, Protestant churches became a focal point of opposition during the 1980s. This was possible because of an agreement with the authorities in 1978 that granted the churches a degree of independence. Opposition groups, composed of believers and nonbelievers alike, subsequently were able to meet at the churches, where they discussed peace issues and how East Germany could be reformed. In 1989 these churches, in particular those in Leipzig, became staging points for the massive demonstrations that led to the collapse of the communist regime.

More about <>Religion in Germany.

Germany - Free Churches

The free churches in Germany include about a dozen affiliated but independent churches and congregations that emerged from Protestant renewal movements, primarily in the nineteenth century. Some free churches practice baptism, and others accept a simple public declaration of faith. Prominent among the former are Baptists and Methodists, who set up religious communities in Germany in 1834 and 1849, respectively. Methodism was brought to Germany by immigrants returning from the United States. Since 1854 a third group, the Free Evangelical Congregations, has practiced baptism of believers, without making it a precondition for membership in the congregation.

Although the various free churches follow different practices, they differ from the two main religions in Germany in that they are independent of the state. The free churches, seeing themselves as "free churches in a free country," seek no special treatment from the state and are funded almost exclusively by members' voluntary contributions.

The emergence of these independent churches was accompanied by their persecution and denunciation as sects. For this reason, overcoming prejudice has been a long and arduous process. After World War II, the free churches were cofounders of the Study Group of Christian Churches in West Germany and West Berlin. They used this organization as a forum for fraternal interaction with other churches.

The tenets of the free churches stress the importance of the New Testament, freely expressed belief in Jesus Christ and a life of service devoted to him, personal piety, and the sanctity of human life. Conscientious objection to military service is a part of the teachings of some free churches. Many free churches emphasize the autonomy of the local parish and prefer to be called a community rather than a church.

Since 1926 the original members of the Free Churches in Germany have cooperated with one another through the Meeting of Evangelical Free Churches. These churches are the Association of Evangelical Free Church Congregations, the Association of Free Evangelical Congregations, and the Evangelical Methodist Church. Five additional churches have guest membership status: the Christian Study Group Mülheim/Ruhr, the Sacred Army in Germany, the European-Festland Fraternal Uniate, the Church of the Nazarene, and the Association of German Mennonite Communities. These eight free churches have a combined membership of approximately 195,000, organized in about 1,500 parishes or communities. Almost all these churches are legal corporate bodies.

In recent years, the free churches' interaction and cooperation with the established Protestant churches have intensified. A few such activities include missionary work, Bible groups, and humanitarian efforts such as "Bread for the World."

More about <>Religion in Germany.

Germany - Orthodox Churches

Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Germany derives mainly from the hundreds of thousands of Serbs who came to the country in the 1960s and 1970s as Gastarbeiter . The breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s caused thousands more Serbs to come to Germany. Many of the Slavs from other East European countries also belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Germany's large Greek population belongs mostly to the Greek Orthodox Church.

More about <>Religion in Germany.

Germany - Judaism

When Hitler came to power in 1933, approximately 600,000 Jews lived in Germany, some of whom were among the most prominent members of society. Over the next twelve years, most fled or were murdered, along with millions of East European Jews, Slavs, and other nationalities. As of January 1992, seventy-six Jewish congregations and Land associations had about 34,000 members, with the largest communities located in Berlin and Frankfurt am Main. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, several thousand Soviet Jews of German ancestry took advantage of liberalized Soviet emigration policies and German naturalization laws and resettled in the Federal Republic. However, since unification in 1990 and the outbreak of radical right-wing violence, some in the Jewish community, remembering similar events in the 1930s, have left. Although most hate-crimes and violence have been aimed at foreign workers and asylum-seekers, there have been scattered incidents of attacks on Jewish synagogues and memorials.

More about <>Religion in Germany.

Germany - Islam

Following the influx of foreign laborers in the 1960s and early 1970s, Islam established a religious presence in Germany, making it the religion with the country's third largest membership. As of 1994, approximately 2 million Muslims resided in Germany. Most of the Muslims are either Turkish, Kurdish, Iranian, or Palestinian. Additional Muslims have entered the country as refugees, fleeing the ethnic and religious conflict in the former Yugoslavia.

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Germany - Social Structure and Social Mobility

Despite continuing although lessening differences in living standards between the old and new Länder , in the mid-1990s German social structure consists mainly of a large, prosperous central stratum containing about 60 percent of the population. This stratum includes mid-level civil servants, most salaried employees, skilled blue-collar workers, and a shrinking pool of farmers. A smaller wealthier group consisting of an upper-middle class and an upper class offsets the poverty experienced by a poor lower class. Hence in terms of social indicators such as education, average income, and property ownership, Germany ranks among the world's leading countries. In terms of income, for example, in 1991 the average German family had a net monthly income of DM4,905, second highest among members of the EC.

Social Structure

Most of the workforce is employed in the services sector. West Germany completed the transition from an industrial economy to one dominated by the services sector in the 1970s, and by the late 1980s this sector employed two-thirds of the workforce. In contrast, when the Berlin Wall fell, East Germany still had not made this transition. Because more of the workforce was engaged in industry and agriculture than in the services sector, its socioeconomic structure resembled that of West Germany in 1965.

Rainer Geissler, a German sociologist, has examined his country's social structure in light of the economic changes that have taken place in the postwar era. Because of the growth of the services sector and the doubling of state employees since 1950, he has discarded earlier divisions of German society into an elite class, middle class, and worker class, with a small services class consisting of employees of all levels. He has replaced this division with a more nuanced model that better reflects these postwar changes. As the economy of the new Länder is incorporated into the western economy, its much simpler social structure (elite, self-employed, salaried employees, and workers) will come to resemble that of the old Länder .

According to Geissler, at the end of the 1980s West Germany's largest group (28 percent of the population) was an educated salaried middle class, employed either in the services sector or in the manufacturing sector as educated, white-collar employees. Some members of this group earned very high salaries; others earned skilled blue-collar wages. This professional class has expanded at the expense of the old middle class, which amounted to only 7 percent of the population at the end of the 1980s. A less educated segment of the services sector, or white-collar employee sector, amounted to 9 percent of the population. Geissler divided the working class into three groups: an elite of the best-trained and best-paid workers (12 percent); skilled workers (18 percent), about 5 percent of whom are foreigners; and unskilled workers (15 percent), about 25 percent of whom are foreigners. A portion of this last group live below the poverty line. Farmers and their families make up 6 percent of the population. At the top of his model of the social structure, Geissler posits an elite of less than 1 percent.

Germany - The Elite

During the centuries when Germany was a collection of medium-and small-sized states, wealth and power were concentrated in the hands of the nobility, landed gentry, and wealthy merchants in the cities. With the collapse of the German Empire in 1918, the nobility and landed gentry suffered a major setback, but they still retained much power and influence. During the interwar years, however, much political power devolved to representatives of other classes. A vivid illustration of the transfer of power was former army corporal Adolf Hitler's assumption of the German presidency following the death of General Paul von Hindenburg in 1934.

The old propertied and monied elites suffered an additional loss of power after World War II. In the new worker-dominated GDR, they saw their property confiscated and their power evaporate. West German society was transformed by the rapidly expanding social market economy and the migration of millions of displaced persons from the east, many of whom were well educated and capable. Some of the old elite and their offspring retained positions of influence (most notably in the military and the diplomatic corps), but to an extent greater than ever before, the elite class became open to society as a whole.

According to Geissler, Germany's elite numbers just a few thousand, less than 1 percent of the population, but its influence far outweighs its numbers. The elite consists of persons occupying key positions in such social sectors as business, politics, labor unions, the civil service, the media, and the churches. Membership in the elite is based on performance and is rarely inherited. For this reason, Germany's elite is pluralist in nature because members of lower social strata can enter it by rising to the top of a social sector. The openness of elite positions varies. Sons of workers routinely come to hold high positions in labor unions or in the SPD, but rarely in banking or the diplomatic corps. A vital criterion for advancement is a university degree, most notably a law degree, because about one-third of Germany's elite consists of lawyers.

Entry into East Germany's elite was determined almost exclusively by ideological considerations. Small and entrenched, the East German elite has been characterized as monopolistic, in contrast to that of the West German elite, where numerous groups shared or competed for power. Most of the GDR elite has lost power since the fall of the Berlin Wall. As a result, a new elite similar to the pluralistic elite of the old Länder is forming in the new Länder .

Germany - The Self-Employed

The self-employed provide a service on their own or are the owners of firms that provide a service or a product. In West Germany in 1989, the self-employed constituted 8.8 percent of the workforce, compared with 16.0 percent in 1950; their decline was even steeper in East Germany, from 20.4 to 2.2 percent over the same period. The self-employed are a heterogeneous group, encompassing shipping magnates and seamstresses and artists and gas station owners. As a result, the earnings of the group's members vary considerably--some members are wealthy, most rank in the upper middle or middle class in terms of income and social prestige, and some (about 7 percent of this group) are poor. Excluding farmers, annual household income of the self-employed in the old Länder in 1991 amounted to about DM150,000, almost triple the average household income.

As property owners and food producers, farmers are a small but significant part of the self-employed. In both Germanys, the number of farmers fell dramatically in the postwar era: in the west, from 5 million (or 10 percent of the population) in 1950 to 864,000 (or 1.4 percent) in 1989; in the east, from 740,000 in 1951 to only 3,000 in the early 1990s.

A typical agricultural enterprise in the old Länder is a small- or medium-sized farm worked by the owner, assisted by one or two family members. Some farmers are wealthy, while others only earn a bare subsistence. Farmers' average household income is lower than that of most other self-employed but is about 25 percent higher than the national average.

Germany - Salaried Employees

The number of salaried employees grew greatly in the postwar era in West Germany, from 16 percent of the workforce in 1950, to 33 percent in 1974, and to 42 percent in 1989. Salaried employees work in three main areas: commercial, technical, and administrative. In 1989, 68 percent of salaried employees worked in the services sector and 32 percent in industry.

Geissler divides salaried employees (including civil servants) into two groups: a lower group that performs simple routine tasks (hairdressers, salesclerks, bus drivers, and low-level civil servants such as letter carriers) and that in 1989 accounted for 9 percent of West Germany's population; and an upper group with advanced education and responsibility, often unsupervised, that performs complex tasks (accountants, teachers, lawyers, and engineers) and that accounted for 28 percent of the population. The jobs of the upper group often involve much stress, and half its members have complained of it, compared with less than one-fourth of skilled workers.

In 1988 the households of salaried employees in West Germany earned on the whole 36 percent more than workers' households. Studies have found that despite their modest social prestige and income, only 13 percent of the lower group of salaried employees regard themselves as workers. Salaried employees as a whole see themselves as belonging to the middle class. According to various studies cited by Geissler, the social animosity that prevailed between salaried employees and workers in the first half of the twentieth century has evolved into a more subtle sense of belonging to different groups. This feeling of distinctness is most strongly felt by salaried employees far removed from the workbench, for example, those in banking.

Generally speaking, salaried employees tend to believe that they must look out for themselves on an individual basis, rather than collectively, as is more common among workers. The higher salaried employees rise in their profession, the more likely this is to be the case. In consequence, a smaller portion of salaried employees are members of labor unions than are workers.

Germany - Civil Servants

Civil servants (Beamten ) have a long tradition in Germany. Their number more than doubled between 1950 and 1989, from 790,000 to 1.8 million in West Germany, where they accounted for 6.6 percent of the workforce. Because teachers and professors are civil servants in Germany, much of this increase came from the expansion of education in the postwar era. Only about one-third of those working for the state are regarded as civil servants. The remainder are either hourly or salaried employees without the special status and rights of civil servants. In 1989 civil servants and government employees accounted for 16.6 percent of the workforce.

Civil servants have complete job security, generous pensions, and higher net incomes than salaried employees. In return for these advantages, civil servants are to serve the state loyally and carry out their duties in a nonpartisan way. This does not, however, prevent civil servants from being active in politics and even being elected to public office.

Germany - Workers

Although West Germany became primarily a services-sector economy in the 1970s, blue-collar workers remain a vitally important segment of the workforce, even though they are outnumbered by salaried employees. At the end of the 1980s, workers accounted for two-fifths of the workforce in West Germany, a drop from three-fifths in 1900 and slightly more than one-half in 1960. The social market economy and powerful trade unions greatly improved workers' working conditions, job security, and living standards in the postwar era. Between 1970 and 1989, for example, their average net earnings increased 41 percent in real terms, more than any other group except for the self-employed (not including farmers) and pensioners. In the 1980s, about 43 percent of skilled workers and 29 percent of unskilled or partially trained workers lived in their own houses or apartments; automobile ownership and lengthy vacations (often abroad) had become the rule.

As a result of these changes, German workers no longer live separately from the rest of society as was the case in the nineteenth century and for much of the twentieth century. The gradual, so-called deproletarianization has caused some sociologists to maintain that it is no longer accurate to speak of German workers as a separate social group. Geissler is aware of the much-improved living standards of the workers and the gradual disappearance of a proletarian lifestyle, but he maintains that workers still constitute a distinct group because their earnings are lower than average, their work is physically demanding and closely supervised, and their children's opportunities for social advancement are not as good as those of most other groups. In addition, most workers still regard themselves as members of the working class, although a growing percentage see themselves as middle class.

According to Geissler, the working class is composed of three distinct subgroups: elite, skilled, and unskilled or partially trained workers. In the mid-1980s, about 12 percent of the population lived in the households of the worker elite, 19 percent in those of skilled workers, and 16 percent in those of the unskilled.

The worker elite, which is composed of supervisors and highly trained personnel, enjoys better pay than the other groups. Its work is less physically demanding and resembles that of salaried employees. Only one-third of the sons of the worker elite remain workers, and about one-half of the group see themselves as members of the middle class.

Skilled workers have completed a set course of vocational training. This group has expanded in recent decades and in the early 1990s outnumbered the unskilled, which even as late as 1970 accounted for 57 percent of workers.

Unskilled workers perform the poorest paid and dirtiest tasks. Foreigners account for about 25 percent of this group and German women for about 38 percent. A portion of this group lives below the poverty line. In addition to their other burdens, the unskilled are most likely to become unemployed and involved in criminal activity.

Germany - The Poor

As a large, urbanized, industrial country with a diverse population, Germany has a portion of its population living in poverty. The European Union (EU--see Glossary) classifies as poor those households that have less than half the average net income. According to this definition, in 1992 approximately 7.5 percent of the population in the old Länder and 14.8 percent in the new Länder were poor. The number of poor has been growing since 1970, when the number of those receiving social assistance reached its lowest point of 750,000. In the early 1990s, one study estimated that in 1992 there were 4.6 million recipients of various kinds of social assistance, nearly 700,000 of whom lived in the new Länder . Households with three or more children and single parents were the most likely recipients of social assistance.

Germany - Social Mobility

Upward social mobility, or the ability or chance of offspring to improve their social position relative to that of their parents, expanded in both Germanys during the postwar era. The growth of the services sector was the primary cause of this expansion. The large, well-trained workforce required by this sector was supplied by a greatly expanded education system. As a result, many Germans received a better education than had their parents.

The postwar era saw the formation of a large, newly educated middle class, which grew at the expense of the small traditional middle class, many of whose members were merchants and the owners of small firms. Joining this older middle class was difficult because membership required capital, property, and other kinds of assets. For this reason, it was a relatively closed class, and its members were usually the offspring of existing members. By contrast, joining the new professional middle class depended on academic training, something readily available in postwar West Germany, where education was inexpensive and financial aid was easily obtainable.

One study measuring social mobility in the postwar decades used a six-level model to track Germans born between 1930 and 1949. It found that 20 percent had moved up to the next higher level, 10 percent had moved up two levels, and 2 percent had moved up three levels. Some downward mobility was recorded as well. For example, 1 percent had dropped three levels.

Opportunities for upward social mobility varied, however, according to one's place in society. Blue-collar workers, for example, did not show as much social mobility as other classes, although their mobility increased somewhat in the late postwar decades. A commonly used index to measure social mobility is the percentage of sons remaining within the social stratum or milieu of their fathers. West German studies have shown that in 1970 only 5 percent of blue-collar workers' sons managed to move up into better paying, higher status professions in the services sector. By 1979 the percentage had more than doubled to 11 percent. The percentage of sons of lower-level salaried and public-sector employees moving into elevated professional positions had increased from 12 to 22 percent in the same period.

Another study examined the likelihood of different groups securing a position in the two top levels of the services sector. The first and upper level accounts for about 10 percent of total employment and consists of positions in medicine, law, higher education, upper levels of administration, and the like. The second and lower level accounts for about 15 percent of employment and consists of positions in teaching, mid-level management, retailing, computers, and the like. The study found that about two-thirds of those employed in the top level and nearly three-fifths of those in the second level are the offspring of persons employed in these levels. Only about 20 percent of the sons of workers are employed in these levels. Access to the top level is very restricted, with 4 percent of the sons of skilled workers and 2 percent of the sons of unskilled workers employed there. Almost no farmers' sons move into the top levels.

Geissler has found three occupational categories particularly conducive to upward mobility: the self-employed, the nonmanual service providers, and the worker elite. Self-recruitment in the three categories is relatively low. Geissler holds that this indicates that the offspring of those so employed are finding higher status positions. In contrast to these groups, 93 percent of farmers are the sons of farmers; farmers' offspring who leave the farm usually become either skilled or unskilled workers.

As of the first half of the 1990s, social mobility trends in the new Länder had not yet stabilized. Both upward and downward mobility are greater than in the old Länder . The widespread disqualification of the GDR elite meant downward mobility for many. The rapid transformation of the social structure through the replacement of a command socialist economy with a social market economy is also causing much social mobility, especially between generations. Children often do not work in the same sector as their parents. A new social class of entrepreneurs is being formed as the new Länder become integrated into the western economy.

Germany - The Search for a New National Identity

In the aftermath of unification, Germans are searching for a new identity. There appear to be at least two distinct German identities, and obstacles to their speedy fusion seem formidable.

In the postwar period, West Germany became an upwardly mobile, success-oriented society. By 1990 a broad and prosperous middle-class and upper-middle-class society had developed. Although they still worked hard to earn the vacation and working conditions among the best in the world, West Germans sought to create a "leisure society." There was a movement, for example, advocating the adoption of a four-day workweek. Work was intrinsically less important to West Germans than to East Germans; instead, they prized personal fulfillment, recreation, health, and the natural environment.

Through a remarkable transformation, West Germans had rehabilitated themselves, had become internationally oriented, and had assumed a leading role within the larger European community. Members of the older generation, especially those "blessed by a late birth" (too young to be Nazis), were self-assured and proud of the Federal Republic's political, economic, and social achievements. Starting in the 1960s, the younger generation discovered new freedoms and exercised them. In the 1970s and 1980s, youth- and student-led protests were mounted against nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants and in favor of peace, disarmament, and environmental protection.

By the early 1990s, most of the 1960s generation had been assimilated into the German establishment, but its experiences in challenging authority and winning concessions produced evolutionary changes in German society, economy, and culture. This generation's influence could be seen in the huge candlelight vigils staged by people of all ages to protest right-wing violence and xenophobia.

On the other side of the fortified border, East German society was decidedly working class, with comparatively minor class distinctions. Where there were significant income differentials, the extra money was of little consequence in an economy marked by shortages of most consumer goods. The state apparatus provided security in the form of guaranteed employment, free education and health care, and subsidized low rent. Homelessness was unknown in the GDR. Other social ills such as violent crime, drug abuse, and prostitution also were much less prevalent than in the west.

In terms of their attitude toward state authority and the family, easterners manifested values characteristic of westerners in the late 1950s and 1960s. On the factory floor or the collective farm, conditions were often primitive and the workweek long (forty-three or more hours). The workforce, too, was reminiscent of an earlier Germany, with greater numbers employed in smokestack industries or in fields and mines, and far fewer in the services or information sector. One of many revelations after unification was the information illiteracy of easterners.

With few external options or diversions, East Germans identified with home and family more than their counterparts in the west. Deprived of the means and liberty to travel outside communist Eastern Europe, they formed what some sociologists called a "niche society," retreating into an inner circle to find a degree of privacy.

For three generations, East Germans had been indoctrinated in the thought processes of two forms of totalitarianism in succession: nazism and communism. With the collapse of communism, Germans living in the new Länder had few values and beliefs, aside from personal ones, with which to identify. Embittered by the seemingly imperialistic imposition of all things West German, some easterners developed "an identity of defiance" (Trotzidentität ).

In the initial stage of union, Germans focused on the profound differences that had evolved in the two states since the end of World War II. In the Federal Republic, one of the world's wealthiest countries, quality-of-life issues played key roles in defining one's place and identity in society. Home ownership, travel experiences, and leisure activities of all kinds were translated into powerful status symbols.

In stark contrast, the state owned practically all property in East Germany. Expectations of improving individual or family lifestyles were modest. Overall, the eastern Länder were decades behind the west in most categories measuring standard of living. Coming from a society grown accustomed to measuring itself and others by the yardstick of material prosperity, it was not surprising that West Germans felt more in common with their neighbors to the west, in whose countries they frequently traveled.

In some respects, the former GDR stood in relation to the FRG as a colony to an imperial power, and it was not long before westerners and easterners began acting out the roles of "know-it-alls" (westerners) and "whimpering easterners." Within several years of the opening of the Berlin Wall, the former East Germany was transformed from a full-employment society to one having more than 1 million unemployed and hundreds of thousands of part-time workers.

Forced resocialization has weighed heavily on eastern Germans' self-esteem. The cleft between east and west is sufficiently deep and wide to make easterners appear to be foreigners in their own land, or at best second-class citizens. By August 1992, the situation had deteriorated to the point where a headline on the cover of Der Spiegel , the influential weekly magazine, summed it up in three words: "Germans Against Germans."

In modern European history, the merging of two fundamentally different social, political, and economic systems such as those that evolved in the two Germanys has no precedent. Fortunately for the newly united country, most Germans still rely on the traditional traits of diligence, orderliness, discipline, and thrift, and these shared values ultimately should resolve the problems associated with the merger of two states and societies at vastly different levels of development and achievement.

Germany - Social Welfare, Health Care, and Education

THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL POLICY in Germany has followed a unique historical path. During a long process of growth and social experimentation, Germany combined a vigorous and highly competitive capitalist economy with a social welfare system that, with some exceptions, has provided its citizens cradle-to-grave security. The system's benefits are so extensive that by the 1990s annual total spending by the state, employers, and private households on health care, pensions, and other aspects of what Germans call the social safety net amounted to roughly DM1 trillion (for value of the deutsche mark--see Glossary) and accounted for about one-third of the country's gross national product (GNP--see Glossary). Unlike many of the world's advanced countries, however, Germany does not provide its citizens with health care, pensions, and other social welfare benefits through a centralized state-run system. Rather, it provides these benefits via a complex network of national agencies and a large number of independent regional and local entities--some public, some quasi-public, and many private and voluntary. Many of these structures date from the nineteenth century, and some from much earlier.

The legislation that established the basis of this system dates from the 1880s and was passed by imperial Germany's parliament, the Reichstag, with the dual purpose of helping German workers meet life's vicissitudes and thereby making them less susceptible to socialism. This legislation set the main principles that have guided the development of social policy in Germany to the present day: membership in insurance programs is mandated by law; the administration of these programs is delegated to nonstate bodies with representatives of the insured and employers; entitlement to benefits is linked to past contributions rather than need; benefits and contributions are related to earnings; and financing is secured through wage taxes levied on the employer and the employee and, depending on the program, sometimes through additional state financing.

These insurance programs were developed from the bottom up. They first covered elements of the working class and then extended coverage to ever broader segments of the population and incorporated additional risks. Over time, these programs came to provide a wide net of entitlements to those individuals having a steady work history.

By international standards, the German welfare system is comprehensive and generous. However, not everyone benefits equally. In the mid-1990s, the so-called safety net was deficient for the lower-income strata and the unemployed. It was also inadequate for persons needing what Germans term "social aid," that is, assistance in times of hardship. In 1994, for example, 4.6 million persons needed social aid, a 100 percent increase since the 1980s. Germans who had been citizens of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR, or East Germany), which became part of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, or West Germany) in 1990, tend to be overrepresented in each of these groups.

Women are more at a disadvantage than any other social group. This fact stems from the bias of German social insurance programs in favor of a male breadwinner model; most women receive social and health protection by virtue of their dependent status as spouse. Hence, despite the existence of a comprehensive interlocking social net, women face inequalities in accruing benefits in their own right because of periods spent rearing children or caring for an elderly parent. Divorced women also fare poorly because of the welfare system's provisions, as do widows, whose pensions are low.

In addition to these problems or shortcomings, Germany's social welfare and health programs have had to contend with the unification of the former West Germany and East Germany in 1990. West Germany's approach to social insurance, health insurance, unemployment insurance (which did not exist in the former GDR), accident insurance, and social aid and assistance has been applied to East Germany. This fact has meant that the complex and heterogeneous organizational and financial arrangements present in the former West Germany to deliver health and social services have had to be built up in the former East Germany, in many cases entirely from scratch.

The need for this extension of social welfare programs follows logically from the former East Germany's transition to a free-market economy in which employment, health care, and social insurance benefits have always been highly contingent upon each other. In the absence of an East German democratic tradition and attitudes supportive of the new institutions and, as well, of adequate private organizational resources and skilled manpower, Germany's attempt to integrate two entirely different systems of social protection, education, and health care purely by means of law, administrative provisions, and financial resources is bound to produce problems for years to come.

In the mid-1990s, representatives of Germany's political parties, businesses, unions, and voluntary social services agencies continued to wage a vigorous debate over social policy. At issue is the role to be played by state and/or nongovernmental voluntary charitable agencies, churches, and other social service providers and how to find a politically acceptable mix of public and private institutions. Ever since the nineteenth century, especially during periods of economic and social crisis, there has been a recurrent demand to shift from insurance-based programs to a universal flat-rate and tax-financed program in order to secure a minimum income for all. However, there has never been sufficient political support for eliminating insurance-based programs. In the postwar period, business groups and the Christian Democratic Union (Christlich Demo-kratische Union--CDU), with the exception of the left wing within the CDU, tended to support the continued segmentation of the labor force into separate insurance-based programs for various occupational groups. In contrast, the labor unions and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (Sozialdemo-kratische Partei Deutschlands--SPD) tended to support unitary programs for the entire labor force.

The great costs of unification have raised the possibility of ending the steady expansion of social welfare programs that had been going on for more than a century. The current conservative governing coalition has proposed reductions in benefits to finance unification. Other factors such as the increasingly competitive global economy and structural changes in the labor market have also raised questions about the continued affordability of German social policy. As a result, the government is increasingly listening to employers who insist that their share of employee benefit payments be reduced in order that German business remain competitive in a global economy.

The integration of the two entirely different education systems that emerged after the 1945 division of the country has also raised many controversial issues. No consensus has emerged on whether Germany should adopt the unified school system found in the former East Germany or the heterogeneous three-tiered system of the former West Germany. Nor is there consensus on whether to increase the number of school years by one year for students in eastern Germany or to reduce the thirteen years of schooling in western Germany to twelve years. A greater uniformity within the country's education system is also needed because the plethora of school tracks and the diversity of curricula and qualifying examinations might indeed endanger the mobility of students and teachers within Germany and within Europe in general.

Germany - Social Insurance and Welfare Programs

Historical Development

After Germany was united in 1871 under the direction of Otto von Bismarck, the nation developed a common government structure and social policy. But the fact that united Germany had been formed out of four kingdoms, five grand duchies, twelve duchies, twelve principalities, and three free cities was a crucial factor in the way social welfare was administrated. Although after unification social welfare policy was increasingly formulated on the national level, the social insurance programs implementing national policy were aimed at different social strata and were administered in highly decentralized ways.

The new social welfare system that developed after unification in 1871 used existing decentralized structures to provide an ever increasing range of benefits. Because of this, most social welfare programs in Germany are not administered by state bureaucracies. Instead, except for the period when Germany was ruled by the regime of Adolf Hitler (1933-45) and when the former East Germany (1949-90) established a state-run social welfare program, the organizations implementing social policy have been private voluntary entities, some of which date from the Middle Ages. Thus, Germany has implemented a national social policy through an extensive decentralized and pluralistic network of voluntary agencies.

Germans see their economy as a social market economy, that is, one that combines a capitalist mode of production with the belief that society should protect all its members from economic and social need. Such protection is provided by a system of social insurance to which people contribute according to their incomes with the understanding that they may someday need its assistance. The belief that society is responsible for the well-being of its members is called solidarity, or Solidarität , and is a key concept of German social policy.

Germans have combined the notion of solidarity with federal and decentralized arrangements of power sharing, or Subsidarität , another concept that lies at the heart of German political culture and is characteristic of all German-speaking countries. Fundamentally, Subsidarität means building social organizations and society from the bottom up rather than from the top down. As a result of this concept, Germans rely on grassroots social entities whenever possible to provide social services and make use of higher-level institutions only when lower-level ones are found to be inadequate.

Solidarität and Subsidarität have affected the development of a national social policy, but most of all they have shaped its implementation. For example, Germany's social insurance programs are quasi-public self-governing bodies subject in most cases to labor and management control, but they are largely independent of the public sector, which retains only supervisory powers. The primary providers of most social assistance services are private-sector voluntary organizations, most of which are church related. Government offices at the regional and local levels generally determine and handle cash benefits and allowances established at the national level.

Some of the most important voluntary social service agencies and church-related groups predate the unification of Germany in 1871; others date from the last decades of the nineteenth century. The first German chapter of the International Red Cross was founded in 1863. Out of it grew the German Red Cross, one of the country's key voluntary agencies. The Innere Mission, which later became the Diakonisches Werk of the Evangelical Church in Germany, was founded in 1848. The Roman Catholic charity Deutscher Caritasverband, the largest of the voluntary welfare associations, dates from 1897. The German Non-Denominational Welfare Association, as it became known after 1932, was founded in 1920 to represent all nonchurch-related hospitals. The Workers' Welfare Organization was founded in 1919 from numerous Social Democratic women's groups working for the well-being of children.

Despite the radically different political regimes in power in Germany since 1871, German social policy has shown a remarkable degree of continuity in organizational arrangements and financing. Change has been largely of an incremental nature, and new programs have conformed to previously existing principles and patterns.

The beginning of the national German social welfare system occurred in the 1880s while Bismarck was in power. A primary motivation for social legislation was the government's desire to erode support for socialism among workers and to establish the superiority of the Prussian state over the churches. The government hoped that provision of economic security in case of major risks and loss of income would promote political integration and political stability. Three laws laid the foundations of the German social welfare system: the Health Insurance of Workers Law of 1883, which provided protection against the temporary loss of income as a result of illness; the Accident Insurance Law of 1884, which aided workers injured on the job; and the Old Age and Invalidity Insurance Law of 1889. Initially, these three laws covered only the top segments of the blue-collar working class.

The second phase of the German social welfare system spanned the period from 1890, the year of Bismarck's resignation, to 1918. During this period, improvements were made in the initial programs.The National Insurance Code of 1911 integrated the three separate insurance programs into a unified social security system, and compulsory coverage and benefits were extended to white-collar workers. Survivors' pensions for widows were also introduced in 1911. (The many amendments to the National Insurance Code of 1911 were later integrated into the Social Insurance Code of 1988.) In 1916 survivors' benefits were increased, and the retirement age for workers was reduced from seventy to sixty-five. Because its cooperation was needed to maintain production during World War I, the working class acquired more political influence and won greater social protection and representation during this period. Efforts were also made to develop mechanisms for settling labor disputes and organizing voluntary employee committees, issues taken up by new labor legislation and decrees. Most efforts were completed by the mid-1920s.

The Weimar Republic (1918-33) saw a further expansion of social welfare programs. In 1920 war victims' benefits were added to the social welfare system. In 1922 the Youth Welfare Act was passed, which today continues to serve as the basic vehicle for all youth-related programs. Unemployment relief was consolidated in 1923 into a regular assistance program, financed by employees and employers. The same year, the 1913 agreement between doctors and sickness funds about who could treat sickness-funds patients was integrated into the National Insurance Code. Also in 1923, a national law on miners created a single agency for the administration of social insurance programs for miners; before the law went into effect, 110 separate associations had administered the program. In 1924 a modern public assistance program replaced the poor relief legislation of 1870, and in 1925 the accident insurance program was reformed, allowing occupational diseases to become insurable risks. In 1927 a national unemployment insurance program was also established. These gains in social insurance and assistance programs were threatened by the Great Depression of the early 1930s, however. Reduced wages meant smaller contributions to social insurance and assistance programs, all of which were soon on the brink of bankruptcy.

The Hitler regime introduced major changes in individual programs and program administration. In 1934 the regime dismantled the self-governance structure of all social insurance programs and appointed directors who reported to the central authorities. The regime made many improvements in social insurance programs and benefits, but these changes were conceived to serve the regime rather than the population. In 1938 artisans came to be covered under compulsory social insurance, and in 1941 public health insurance coverage was extended to pensioners. In 1942 all wage-earners regardless of occupation were covered by accident insurance, health care became unlimited, and maternity leave was extended to twelve fully paid weeks with job protection.

Two separate German states evolved after World War II, each with its own social welfare programs. In the GDR, the state became even stronger than it had been under Hitler. The communist-directed Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands--SED) had a near monopoly of control over all social and political institutions, including those that administered social welfare programs.

Initially, the GDR retained separate social insurance plans, but by 1956 the plans had been unified into two compulsory, centrally controlled, and hierarchically organized systems that provided universal flat-rate benefits. Special programs also served the so-called technical and scientific intelligentsia, civil servants, police, and members of the National People's Army (Nationale Volksarmee--NVA) and other security organizations. All programs were heavily state subsidized, unlike those in West Germany. Because the right to work was guaranteed, unemployment insurance did not exist.

West Germany moved away from Hitler's central state direction and returned to decentralized administration and control. Social insurance and social protection programs under labor and management control, which were characteristic of the Weimar period, were restored. The return to separate earnings-related and means-tested benefits for different groups meant that social insurance, social compensation, and public assistance (or social aid) were not integrated into one overall administration, as some Germans wished and as the Allied Control Council had intended in 1946 when it drafted a unified national insurance system. In the mid-1970s, legislators attempted to consolidate the goals, the protection, and the entitlements as much as possible. But they failed to develop a coherently organized and uniform system that would have eliminated disparities in individual entitlements. Indeed, by the mid-1990s the disparities in welfare benefits entitlements in unified Germany had become more significant than ever before.

Germany - Provisions of the Social Welfare System

The German social welfare tradition divides entitlement programs into three types. The first and most common type consists of contributory social insurance programs that protect those who pay into them from loss of income and unplanned expenditures because of illness, accident, old age or disability, and unemployment. The second type consists of noncontributory social compensation programs that provide tax-financed social welfare (such as health care, pensions, and other benefits) to those--civil servants, for example--who perform a public service to society. Tax-financed social compensation is also provided to those who have suffered from income loss or disability as a result of military or other public service, and allowances are provided to their dependents in the case of death. Since 1976 victims of violent crimes have also been eligible for social compensation. In addition, social compensation can consist of payments to all members of society and includes tax-funded child, housing, and educational allowances. The third type of social welfare programs provides social aid, or assistance, to persons in need who are not eligible for assistance from the other two kinds of social entitlement programs or who need additional aid because they are still in need--for example, if their pensions are too small to provide them with decent housing. Aid can consist of general income maintenance payments (including payments for food, housing, clothing, and furniture) and assistance for those with special needs, such as the disabled, and individuals without health insurance (0.3 percent of the total German population).

In order to better measure the extent of social welfare expenditures, since 1960 the Germans have used the concept of a social budget to lump together all forms of social spending, whether by the government, by the country's large social insurance programs, or by other sources. The steady expansion of social welfare programs and the increased costs of such items as pensions and medical care caused West Germany's social budget to increase tenfold between 1960 and 1990, from DM68.9 billion in 1960 to DM703.1 billion in 1990. The West German economy expanded greatly in this period so that the social budget's share of GNP increased from about one-fifth in 1960 to about one-third by 1990. Roughly two-fifths of the 1990 social budget went to pension payments and one-third to health care. By 1992 the social budget had grown to about DM900 billion, a sharp increase caused by the unification of the two Germanys. Unification meant an increased population and many special needs of the five new states (Länder ; sing., Land ) in eastern Germany.

In 1990 the public sector (federal, Land , and local governments) paid for about 38 percent of the social budget, employers for 32 percent, and private households for about 29 percent. The remainder was financed by social insurance and private organizations.

The cost of the social budget for an average wage earner is difficult to assess. By the mid-1990s, however, a typical wage earner was estimated to pay about one-fifth of his or her income in direct taxes (only part of which went to the social budget) and another one-fifth for the compulsory social insurance programs. In addition, there were many indirect taxes, which accounted for about two-fifths of all tax revenue. The most important of the indirect taxes is the value-added tax (VAT--see Glossary), set in 1993 at 15 percent for most goods and at 7 percent for basic commodities each time it is assessed. Given Germany's demographic trends, the cost of the social budget is certain to increase in the coming decades.

Germany - Social Insurance

The social insurance program was established in 1889 and provides retirement pay. Although the central government has always formulated social insurance policy, the implementation of the program is decentralized. In unified Germany, control over the blue-collar insurance programs remains in the hands of twenty-three Land -based insurance agencies and four federal insurance agencies. In the old Länder in western Germany, eighteen Land -based insurance agencies serve people in geographical districts that conform to those established in the nineteenth century, not to the geographical entities created after 1945. With the assistance of staff from the West German insurance agencies, five Land -based and self-governing insurance agencies were established in the new Länder .

Four federal insurance agencies serve four groups in unified Germany: federal railroad workers, merchant marine seamen, miners, and white-collar workers. Civil servants and their dependents are covered by a separate retirement program financed by outlays from federal, Land , and local governments. Other retirement programs provide retirement income for registered craftsmen, agricultural workers, and self-employed professionals.

Because of population trends that indicate a worsening worker/retiree ratio and the likelihood of solvency problems in the next century, the pension reform of 1992 increased the usual retirement age from sixty-three to sixty-five, beginning in 2001. Whatever the legal retirement age, many Germans retire early for health reasons on disability pensions.

The amount of retirement pay is determined by the length and level of the insured person's contributions. Contributions in 1995 were scheduled to amount to 18.6 percent of an employee's annual gross income up to a maximum of DM93,600 in the old Länder and DM76,800 in the new Länder , with the employee and employer each paying half. In the early 1990s, the average retirement pension amounted to about DM1,600 per month for retired persons over the age of sixty. This meant that Germany had the fourth-highest pensions in Europe, surpassed only by Luxemburg, France, and Denmark. In 1957 legislation was passed that required pensions to be indexed, that is, raised according to average wage increases.

Germany - Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment insurance was introduced in 1927, relatively late in comparison with the pioneering programs of the nineteenth century. It replaced the welfare program for the unemployed that had been created in 1919. With the exception of civil servants, all employed individuals and trainees, irrespective of salary or wage levels, are covered by the program. Contributions in 1995 to unemployment insurance were scheduled to amount to 6.5 percent of an employee's gross pay up to DM96,600 in the old Länder and DM76,800 in the new Länder , with the employee and employer each paying half. In return, the employee receives unemployment pay of 68 percent of net earnings for a married worker and 63 percent for a nonmarried worker, provided that the unemployed person has worked for 360 insurable days in the last three years before being laid off. Unemployment pay can be paid from the first day of unemployment for seventy-eight to 832 weekdays, depending on the length of insured employment and the age of the unemployed. In the early 1990s, unemployment pay averaged DM1,300 per month. Once unemployment pay runs out, the employee is eligible for unemployment aid, which averaged DM975 a month in the early 1990s. Because the unemployed frequently do not receive enough benefits to maintain their basic living standard, local social welfare entities often provide additional assistance. During unemployment, entitlements to benefits of other social insurance and health insurance programs remain in place.

The unemployment insurance program is administered through a three-tiered administration: a federal labor agency, regional labor agencies in the Länder , and local labor offices. Unlike the labor-management partnership in the administration of the other insurance programs, this program is controlled by tripartite boards composed of representatives of labor, management, and governments at the federal, Land , and local level. Because East Germany did not have an unemployment insurance program, the adoption of such a program in the new Länder has entailed numerous administrative problems. In addition, unemployment there is higher than in the old Länder (in 1994 about 15 percent, compared with 10 percent in the old Länder ).

Germany - Accident Insurance

Enacted in 1884, the accident insurance program initially covered only accidents in the workplace. In 1925 occupational diseases also came to be covered. In the post-1945 era, cash and in-kind benefits such as rehabilitation and vocational training were expanded and improved. Travel to and from work is also now covered. If an accident leads to total disability, the injured person receives a pension amounting to 66 percent of the latest year's earnings. Survivor pensions can amount to a maximum of 80 percent of earnings. Disability pensions and survivors' benefits were indexed in 1957, that is, adjusted according to wage increases. In addition to covering members of the labor force, the plan also covers students and children; their coverage is paid for out of general tax revenues. Employers pay premiums for their employees; premiums amount to 1.44 percent of an employee's gross earnings. The self-employed are also able to enroll in the program.

Germany - Social Assistance

Social assistance is provided to persons who, for any of a number of reasons, are unable to provide themselves with a decent standard of living. In 1991 some 4.2 million persons received various forms of social assistance. In the same year, the most important reasons that people needed social assistance were unemployment (34 percent; social assistance is paid once unemployment pay runs out), pensions or incomes too small to allow their recipients a decent standard of living (11 and 7 percent, respectively), refusal of divorced fathers to pay child support (11 percent), and sickness (6 percent). Half of all recipients of social assistance are single elderly women. Foreigners residing in Germany also receive social assistance at a higher than average rate because they are more likely to be unemployed or earn low incomes.

Unlike the benefits provided by social insurance programs, social assistance is funded by taxes and is not determined by previous contributions. Social assistance is means tested, and recipients generally must have exhausted their savings. The incomes of a recipient's close relatives (parents and children) may also be considered when assessing the provision of social assistance. In the mid-1990s, social assistance for the head of household amounted to about DM500 a month in the old Länder ; 80 percent of this amount was allocated for the spouse, and 50 to 90 percent of this amount was allocated for the children, depending on their ages. In addition to these benefits, social assistance can cover housing costs, medical care, clothing, winter heating, and many other expenses.

Germany - Other Social Benefits

In addition to social assistance, Germany's social welfare system provides many other tax-funded benefits. The most widely paid benefit is that of the child allowance. It is paid to parents of all income levels to lessen the burden of raising children. Benefits are generally paid until the child reaches the age of sixteen and thereafter up to the age of twenty-seven if the child is receiving an education. In the mid-1990s, DM70 a month was paid for the first child, DM130 for the second, DM220 for the third, and DM240 for the fourth and subsequent children. Upper-income parents receive smaller amounts. Child benefits are tax exempt. Taxpayers also have an annual income tax exemption of DM4,104 for each dependent child.

Since 1986 payments for child rearing have also been made to parents who are either unemployed or working only up to nineteen hours per week. In 1994 these payments amounted to DM600 a month per child for the first six months of the child's life; after this age, household income was considered. Payments continue until the child's second birthday. Beginning in 1994, a single parent with a net annual income of more than DM75,000 and a couple with a net annual income of more than DM100,000 were no longer eligible to receive this benefit.

A single parent raising a child and receiving inadequate financial support from the other parent is eligible to receive maintenance payments up to a child's twelfth birthday for a maximum period of seventy-two months. In 1994 in the old Länder , these payments could amount to as much as DM291 a month for children up to age six and DM353 a month for children between the ages of six and twelve.

Families and single individuals can also receive payments to help them with housing expenses if their incomes are insufficient to afford decent shelter. Unlike housing aid provided through social assistance, aid of this nature does not require that recipients exhaust their savings or lack close relatives to assist them.

The disabled are also served by a broad range of medical and vocational programs designed to provide them with humane living conditions. Statutory social insurance programs are responsible for meeting the various needs of their members who become disabled. In addition, government agencies at the federal, Land , and local levels seek to provide employment and help with special housing and transportation provisions. Employment of the disabled is furthered by federal legislation that requires firms employing more than fifteen persons to reserve 6 percent of positions for the disabled or to make annual compensatory payments. In 1994 Germany had nearly 600 sheltered workplaces able to provide special employment for about 140,000 disabled persons unable to find employment in the general economy.

Since 1995 German residents have been obliged to join a new social insurance program that arranges for its members' future need for long-term nursing care. Those with public health insurance will continue with that insurance; those with private health insurance are obliged to secure a new insurance policy to arrange long-term nursing care. The new insurance program will initially cover the expenses of long-term nursing provided at home; monthly benefits, in some special cases, will go up to DM3,750 but usually will be set at much lower levels depending on the kind of nursing care provided and the condition of the insured person's health. Some benefits will be provided in kind, such as visits by health care professionals to the home. Some benefits will be cash payments to friends or relatives who provide nonprofessional nursing care. Beginning in mid-1996, long-term institutional care will also be covered.

Until this program was instituted, the lack of long-term nursing care was seen as the single most important shortcoming in the country's system of social welfare. One effect of this shortcoming was that patients who should have been receiving nursing care at home or in a nursing institution remained instead in hospitals, a more expensive form of treatment. As of late 1994, officials had set an initial contribution of 1 percent of incomes up to DM68,400 a year in the old Länder and DM53,100 in the new Länder , with the employee and the employer each paying half. Part of the costs of long-term nursing care may in the future be covered by abolishing a public holiday that always falls on a workday. To cover the cost of long-term institutional nursing care, the contribution rate will increase to 1.7 percent in mid-1996. The great expense of this benefit may require the abolition of a second public holiday.

The administration of the nursing care insurance program is unique. It overlaps somewhat that of the sickness funds but will also include many federal, Land , and local agencies. In fact, the program will involve more implementors than all other social insurance programs combined. Implementation problems arise primarily from different entitlements and services provided through social assistance, or social aid, and by nursing care insurance. Problems also stem from differing evaluations by sickness-funds medical experts about who needs care and how much and what kind of nursing care is needed throughout Germany.

Germany - National Health Insurance and Medical Care

Germany's health care system provides its residents with nearly universal access to comprehensive high-quality medical care and a choice of physicians. Over 90 percent of the population receives health care through the country's statutory health care insurance program. Membership in this program is compulsory for all those earning less than a periodically revised income ceiling. Nearly all of the remainder of the population receives health care via private for-profit insurance companies. Everyone uses the same health care facilities.

Although the federal government has an important role in specifying national health care policies and although the Länder control the hospital sector, the country's health care system is not government run. Instead, it is administered by national and regional self-governing associations of payers and providers. These associations play key roles in specifying the details of national health policy and negotiate with one another about financing and providing health care. In addition, instead of being paid for by taxes, the system is financed mostly by health care insurance premiums, both compulsory and voluntary.

In early 1993, the Health Care Structural Reform Act (Gesundheitsstrukturgesetz--GSG) came into effect, marking the end of a more than a century-long period in which benefits and services under statutory public health insurance had been extended to ever larger segments of the population. Rising health expenditures may prompt policy makers to impose further restrictions on providers and consumers of health care. These high expenditures have been caused by a rapidly aging population (retirees' costs rose by 962 percent between 1972 and 1992), the intensive and costly use of advanced-technology medical procedures, and other economic and budgetary pressures. As of mid-1995, the drafting of new reform proposals was under way.

For residents of the former GDR, the era of free care ended in 1991. The political decision to adopt the FRG's health care system required the reorganization of nearly all components of health care in the new Länder . As of mid-1995, the reorganization of the health care system in the former GDR still was far from completion.

Germany - Development of the Health Care System

Nearly everyone residing in Germany is guaranteed access to high-quality comprehensive health care. Statutory health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung--GKV) has provided an organizational framework for the delivery of public health care and has shaped the roles of payers, insurance or sickness funds, and providers, physicians, and hospitals since the Health Insurance Act was adopted in 1883. In 1885 the GKV provided medical protection for 26 percent of the lower-paid segments of the labor force, or 10 percent of the population. As with social insurance, health insurance coverage was gradually extended by including ever more occupational groups in the plan and by steadily raising the income ceiling. Those earning less than the ceiling were required to participate in the insurance program. In 1995 the income ceiling was an annual income of about DM70,00 in the old Länder and DM57,600 in the new Länder .

In 1901 transport and office workers came to be covered by public health insurance, followed in 1911 by agricultural and forestry workers and domestic servants, and in 1914 by civil servants. Coverage was extended to the unemployed in 1918, to seamen in 1927, and to all dependents in 1930. In 1941 legislation was passed that allowed workers whose incomes had risen above the income ceiling for compulsory membership to continue their insurance on a voluntary basis. The same year, coverage was extended to all retired Germans. Salespeople came under the plan in 1966, self-employed agricultural workers in 1972, and students and the disabled in 1975.

The 1883 health insurance law did not address the relationship between sickness funds and doctors. The funds had full authority to determine which doctors became participating doctors and to set the rules and conditions under which they did so. These rules and conditions were laid down in individual contracts. Doctors, who had grown increasingly dissatisfied with these contracts and their limited access to the practice of medicine with the sickness funds, mobilized and founded a professional association (Hartmannbund) in 1900 and even went on strike several times. In 1913 doctors and sickness funds established a system of collective bargaining to determine the distribution of licenses and doctors' remuneration. This approach is still practiced, although the system has undergone many modifications since 1913.

The formation of two German states in the second half of the 1940s resulted in two different German health systems. In East Germany, a centralized state-run system was put in place, and physicians became state employees. In West Germany, the prewar system was reestablished. It was supervised by the government but was not government run. According to the Basic Law of l949, Germany's constitution, the federal government has exclusive authority in public health insurance matters and sets broad policy in relation to the GKV. The government's authority applies in particular to benefits, eligibility, compulsory membership, covered risks (physical, emotional, mental, curative, and preventive), income maintenance during temporary illness, employer-employee contributions to the GKV, and other central issues. However, except for the funding of some benefits and the planning and financing of hospitals, the responsibility for administering and providing health care has been delegated to nonstate entities, including national and regional associations of health care providers, Land hospital associations, nonprofit insurance funds, private insurance companies, and voluntary organizations.

Portability of coverage, eligibility, and benefits are independent of any regional and/or local reinterpretations by either insurers, politicians, administrators, or health care providers. Universal coverage is honored by any medical office or hospital. Check-ins at doctors' offices, hospitals, and specialized facilities are simple, and individuals receive immediate medical attention. No one in need of care can be turned away without running a risk of violating the code of medical ethics or Land hospital laws.

The health care system has achieved a high degree of equity and justice, despite its fragmented federal organization: no single group is in a position to dictate the terms of service delivery, reimbursement, remuneration, quality of care, or any other important concerns. The right to health care is regarded as sacrosanct. Universality of coverage, comprehensive benefits, the principle of the healthy paying for the sick, and a redistributive element in the financing of health care have been endorsed by all political parties and are secured in the Basic Law.

By the mid-1990s, health care benefits provided through the GKV were extensive and included ambulatory care (care provided by office-based physicians), choice of office-based physicians, hospital care, full pay to mothers (from six weeks before to eight weeks after childbirth), extensive home help, health checkups, sick leave to care for relatives, rehabilitation and physical therapy, medical appliances (such as artificial limbs), drugs, and stays of up to one month in health spas every few years. Persons who are unable to work because of illness receive full pay for six weeks, then 80 percent of their income for up to seventy-eight weeks. In an attempt to contain costs, beginning in the 1980s some of these benefits required copayments by the insured. Although these fees were generally very low, some copayments were substantial. For example, insured patients paid half the cost of dentures, although most other dental care was paid by health insurance.

The system has managed these achievements relatively economically. In 1992 about 8.1 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP--see Glossary) went into medical care, or US$1,232 per capita, compared with 12.1 percent of GDP and US$2,354 per capita in the United States. Even so, Germany devoted about one-third of its overall social budget to health care, an amount surpassed only by retirement payments.

The German health care community has made a serious and sustained effort to control the growth of health costs since the mid-1970s. The steep rise in health expenditures in the first half of the 1970s prompted the passage of the Health Insurance Cost Containment Act of 1977. The law established an advisory board, the Concerted Action in Health Care, to suggest nonbinding guidelines for health care costs. Chaired by the federal minister for health, its sixty members represent the most important interest groups having a stake in health care. The board has contributed to slowing the growth of health care costs, but further legislation has been necessary.

Modest copayments for medications, dental treatment, hospitalization, and other items were introduced in 1982 for members of sickness funds. These payments were further increased by the Health Care Reform Act of 1989 (Gesundheitsreformgesetz--GRG) and again by the Health Care Structural Reform Act (Gesundheitsstrukturgesetz--GSG) of 1993. The GSG also introduced new regulatory instruments to monitor more closely access to medical practice, to reorganize sickness-funds governance, and to control medication costs and prospective hospital payments. In addition, it proposed measures to overcome the separation between ambulatory medical care and hospital care that prevailed in the former FRG.

Germany - Health Insurance

Some 92 percent of Germany's residents receive health care through statutory health insurance, that is, the GKV. As of late 1992, the GKV relied on about 1,200 nonprofit sickness funds that collect premiums from their members and pay health care providers according to negotiated agreements. Those not insured through these funds, mostly civil servants and the self-employed, have private for-profit insurance. An estimated 0.3 percent of the population has no health insurance of any kind. They are generally the rich who do not need it and the very poor, who receive health care through social assistance.

Sickness funds are divided into two categories: primary funds and substitute funds. Workers earning less than the periodically revised income ceiling are required to belong to the primary funds; those earning more than this ceiling may be members on a voluntary basis. Some primary-fund members have a choice of funds. Others do not and become members of a particular fund because of their occupation or place of residence. According to figures from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs for late 1992, of the six types of primary funds, local sickness funds, then about 270 in number, are the most important. Organized geographically, they supply about 46 percent of the insured workforce with health insurance. About 800 company-based funds, located in firms with more than 450 employees, cover about 11 percent of workers. Some 180 occupational funds organized by craft cover another 2.5 percent. There are three other kinds of primary funds (about two dozen in all); they supply insurance for self-employed farmers, sailors, and miners and cover about 4 percent of the workforce. There are also two kinds of substitute funds; they provide health insurance to white-collar and blue-collar workers earning more than the income ceiling. Substitute funds are organized on a national basis, and membership is voluntary. Such funds cover about 34 percent of insured workers.

Employers and employees each pay half of a member's premiums, which in the first half of the 1990s averaged between 12 and 13 percent of a worker's gross earnings up to the income ceiling. Premiums are set according to earnings rather than risk and are not affected by a member's marital status, family size, or health; they are the same for all members of a particular fund with the same earnings. In a household with two wage earners, each pays the full premium assessed by his or her sickness fund. The unemployed remain members of their sickness fund. Their contributions are paid by federal and local government offices, with one-third coming from local social assistance offices. The contributions of retirees are paid by the pensioners themselves and by their pension funds. Thus, the public health insurance program redistributes from higher to lower income groups, from the healthy to the sick, from the young to the old, from the employed to the unemployed, and from those without children to those with children.

Because some funds have poorer overall health profiles than others as a result of the occupations of their members, the number of dependents and pensioners among its members, or other factors, premiums can range from as low as about 6.5 percent to as much as 16.0 percent of a member's gross earnings. To counter this inequity, a national reserve fund makes payments to funds with high numbers of pensioners. The GSG of 1993 mandates an equalization of contribution rates across all sickness funds by authorizing payments to funds burdened with health risks associated with age and gender.

About 11 percent of Germans pay for private health insurance provided by about forty for-profit insurance carriers. A good portion of those choosing private insurance are civil servants who want insurance to cover the roughly 50 percent of their medical bills not covered by the government. Some sickness-fund members buy additional private insurance to secure such extras as a private room or a choice of physicians while in a hospital. Otherwise, the medical care provided to the publicly and privately insured is identical, and the same medical facilities are used. Self-employed persons earning above the income ceiling must have private insurance. Members of a sickness fund who leave it for a private insurance carrier will generally not be allowed to return to public insurance.

Although private insurance companies pay health care providers about twice the amount paid by the primary sickness funds, private insurance is often cheaper than statutory health insurance, especially for policyholders without dependents. As is the case for members of sickness funds, employees who have private insurance have half their premiums paid by their employers. German private health insurance is unusual in that whatever the insured person's age, his or her premium will remain that set for his or her age cohort when the policy initially was taken. Premiums rise only according to increases in overall health care costs. Policyholders generally stay with their original policy because if they change companies, they will pay the higher rates of an older age cohort.

Germany - Health Care Providers

Germany's principal health care providers are its physicians, dentists, and three types of hospitals (public, private nonprofit, and private for-profit). The health industry also includes large pharmaceutical companies and the manufacturers of various kinds of medical supplies. Public health departments, which are operated by the Länder , are not an important part of German health care. The public health clinics in the new Länder are being phased out during the integration of the two medical systems.

Germany's supply of physicians is high. Students who meet academic requirements have a constitutionally guaranteed right to study medicine. This fact, plus an excellent and inexpensive university system, has resulted in the country's educating physicians at a much higher per capita rate than the United States. Between 1970 and 1990, the number of physicians in the former West Germany more than doubled, and in 1991 the country had 3.2 physicians per 1,000 population, a higher ratio than most other members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD--see Glossary). (In 1990 the United States rate was 2.3 per 1,000.) With 11.5 physician visits per person per year in 1988, West Germans and Italians went to a doctor more frequently than other Europeans. (In 1989 the United States rate was 5.3 visits per person per year.) Even so, expenditures to physicians per capita amounted to less than half (US$193) of those in the United States (US$414).

German physicians have good incomes (dentists earn even more), although their average earnings have declined from six to three times the average wage since efforts at cost containment began in the 1970s. The high number of physicians could reduce physicians' earnings still further. In addition, many young physicians face unemployment. The GSG of 1993, for example, mandates a reduction in the number of office-based physicians who treat GKV patients (generally about 90 percent of physicians join the association that allows them this practice). The law also has the long-term goal of limiting the number of specialists in geographic areas where they are overrepresented.

German health care makes a sharp distinction between physicians who provide office-based or ambulatory care and physicians who work in hospitals. Office-based physicians are fee-for-service entrepreneurs whose incomes depend on the amount and kinds of medical care they provide. In contrast, hospital physicians are salaried employees of the hospitals in which they work. Very few hospital physicians are permitted to bill their patients. Until recent health reform legislation, the two types of physicians did not work together. Once an ambulatory-care physician decided that a patient should enter a hospital (only in emergencies could a patient go directly to a hospital), the patient's care was entirely taken over by a hospital-based physician. When a patient left the hospital, by law he or she again came under the care of an office-based physician. Since the late 1970s, hospital-based physicians have outnumbered ambulatory-care physicians. In 1990 there were about 96,000 of the former and 75,000 of the latter in the old Länder .

The GRG aimed at encouraging a better integration of office and hospital care, but little progress was made. The GSG of 1993 intended to lessen the traditional division by, among other reforms, making it possible for hospital-based physicians to see their patients after their release from the hospital. It is expected that lessening the separation of the types of medical care will reduce overall health care costs, but as of mid-1995 no marked successes in achieving this goal had been noticed. Additionally, new budgeting rules that go into effect in 1996 may cause outpatient surgery, still unusual in Germany, to become more common by making it more profitable for hospitals.

The ownership of hospitals (there were a total of about 3,100 hospitals in the early 1990s) is the outcome of historical development and regional traditions rather than conscious policy and has resulted in three types of hospitals: public, nonprofit, and private for-profit. Each type accounts for about one-third of the hospitals. Public-sector hospitals are mostly owned by the Länder , municipalities, and counties and provide about 50 percent of all hospital beds. Nonprofit hospitals, typically run by Catholic or Protestant organizations, provide about 35 percent of the beds, and for-profit hospitals account for 15 percent.

Germany has too many hospital resources. In 1988 the ratio of 10.9 patient beds per 1,000 population in the former West Germany was higher than the OECD average. The number of admissions as a percentage of the total German population was 21.5 percent, significantly above the OECD average of 16.1 percent. The average length of stay of 16.6 days was below the OECD average but quite high by United States standards. Germany's inpatient occupancy rate was 86.5 percent, also fairly high by international standards.

Between 1972 and 1986, the federal government and the Länder were jointly responsible for hospital policy making, but in 1986 the Land governments once again assumed sole responsibility. Länder own and partially finance medical school hospitals and accredited teaching hospitals. They enforce accreditation and licensing of health facilities and of health professionals working in social services. The Länder are responsible for policy development and implementation of social and nursing services, social assistance, youth services, and social work. Most important, the Länder remain responsible for the effective and efficient allocation and distribution of hospital resources.

Germany - Remuneration of Health Care Providers

Each year the national associations of sickness funds negotiate agreements with the national associations of sickness-funds physicians. The same bargaining procedures apply to dental care. The associations work with guidelines suggested by the Advisory Council for the Concerted Action in Health Care and establish umbrella agreements on guidelines for the delivery of medical care and fee schedules tied to the relative value scales of about 2,000 medical procedures. At the national level, the Federal Committee of Sickness Funds Physicians and Sickness Funds is a key player, although it is little known outside the circle of health care practitioners and experts. It sets spending limits on the practice of medicine in physicians' offices, determines the inclusion of new medical procedures and preventive services, adjusts the remuneration of physicians, and formulates guidelines on the distribution and joint use of sophisticated medical technology and equipment by ambulatory-care or office-based physicians and hospital physicians.

At the regional level, regional associations of sickness funds and regional associations of sickness-funds physicians negotiate specific contracts, including overall health budgets, reimbursement contracts for all physicians in a region, procedures for monitoring physicians, and reference standards for prescription drugs.

A key instrument for containing GKV health care costs is the global budget, introduced in the mid-1980s, which sets limits on total health care expenditures. The GSG of 1993 retained cost containment methods until 1996, when it is hoped that structural reforms will no longer make it necessary. By means of the global budget, regional increases in total medical expenditures are linked to overall wage increases of sickness-funds members. The sickness funds transfer monies amounting to the negotiated budget to the regional associations of sickness-funds physicians; the associations pay their members on the basis of points earned from services performed in a billing period. The value of the services is determined by the negotiated fee-for-service schedule, which assigns points to each service according to the relative value scale. No exchange of money occurs between sickness-fund patient and physician. Privately insured patients pay their physicians themselves and are reimbursed by their insurance companies.

The monetary value of a point is determined by dividing the total value of points billed by all sickness-funds physicians into the region's total negotiated health budget. A greater than expected number of services billed will mean that a point has less value, and a physician will earn less for a particular service than in a previous year. To prevent physicians from attempting to earn more by billing more services, committees of doctors and sickness funds closely scrutinize physician practices. Excess billing practices are easily detected by means of statistical profiles of diagnostic and therapeutic practices that identify departures of individual doctors from the group average (a form of community rating). Physicians found guilty of improper conduct are penalized. The same procedures apply to dentists.

Land hospital associations and Land associations of sickness funds negotiate the general standards for hospital care and procedures and criteria by which to monitor the appropriate and efficient delivery of medical care. Each hospital negotiates a contract on hospital care and the prices for hospital services with the regional sickness-funds association. Until 1993 hospitals' operating costs (of which salaries made up as much as 75 percent) were covered by per diem rates paid by public and private insurance. Hospital investments and equipment are financed by Land general revenues.

The GSG of 1993 developed a more sophisticated reimbursement method for hospitals than the simple per diem rate in an attempt to achieve greater hospital efficiency and thereby reduce costs. The law requires that four sets of costs be negotiated for each hospital: payments to diagnosis-related groups for the full treatment of a case, with the possibility of an extra payment if a patient is hospitalized for an unusual length of time; special payments for surgery and treatments before and after surgery; departmental allowances that reimburse the hospital for all nursing and medical procedures per patient per day; and finally a basic allowance for all nonmedical procedures and covered accommodations, food, television, and similar expenses. The law also introduced new aggregate spending targets and spending caps on hospitals for the period 1993 to 1995. Moreover, the law imposes more stringent capital spending controls on hospital construction and expensive medical equipment.

Germany - Education

Germany has one of the world's best and most extensive school and university systems. Although shortcomings exist, on the whole the country's varied and multifaceted education system addresses well the needs of a population with widely differing characteristics and abilities. Some young people are best served by a traditional classroom-based education that prepares them for study at a wide choice of institutions of higher learning. Others profit more from vocational training and education consisting of on-the-job training combined with classroom instruction. At the end of this kind of education, graduates enter the workforce with a useful skill or profession. Other students may choose one of many combinations of elements of these two paths, or decide later in life to embark on one of them by means of adult education and night school. Because education in Germany costs little compared with that in the United States, for example, and because educational support of various kinds is widely available, Germans are likely to receive education and training suited to their abilities and desires.

But however well Germans have arranged their system of education, problems remain. The integration of two entirely different education systems within the country's highly federalized system had not been completed as of mid-1995. In addition, the country's vaunted system of higher education is beset by severe overcrowding despite its great expansion since the 1960s. Moreover, many who begin study at the university level are not adequately prepared to meet its demands. Many others who successfully complete their courses of study can find no suitable employment once they graduate. Solving these problems will engage the country's educators and public into the next century.

Historical Background

The origins of the German education system date back to church schools in the Middle Ages. The first university was founded in 1386 in <"http://worldfacts.us/Germany-Heidelberg.htm">Heidelberg; others were subsequently established in Cologne, Leipzig, Freiburg, and a number of other cities. These universities, which trained only a small intellectual elite of a few thousand, focused on the classics and religion. In the sixteenth century, the Reformation led to the founding of universities along sectarian lines. It was also in this century that cities promulgated the first regulations regarding elementary schools. By the eighteenth century, elementary schools had increasingly been separated from churches and had come under the direction of state authorities. Prussia, for example, made school attendance for all children between the ages of five and fourteen compulsory in 1763. A number of universities dedicated to science also came into being in the eighteenth century.

The defeat of Prussia by France led to a reform of education by the Berlin scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835). His reforms in secondary schools have shaped the German education system to the present day. He required university-level training for high school teachers and modernized the structure and curriculum of the Gymnasium , the preparatory school. He also proposed an orientation phase after the Gymnasium and a qualifying examination known as the Abitur for university admission. In 1810 Humboldt founded the university in Berlin that now bears his name. Humboldt also introduced the three principles that guided German universities until the 1960s: academic freedom, the unity of teaching and research, and self-government by the professors. Also of much influence in education, both within Germany and abroad, was Friedrich Froebel's development of the kindergarten in 1837.

For much of the nineteenth century, Germany had two distinctive educational tracks: the Gymnasium , which provided a classical education for elites; and the Volksschule , which was attended for eight years by about 90 percent of children. The two schools were administered and supervised separately. Later in the century, two additional types of school emerged: the Realgymnasium , which substituted modern languages for the classics, and the Oberrealschule , which emphasized mathematics and science. Most children, however, could not attend the schools that prepared students for the professions or university entrance because of the schools' high standards and long duration. Hence, around the turn of the century, the Mittelschule , or middle school, was introduced to meet parental demand for expanded educational and economic opportunities. Children entered the Mittelschule after three years of elementary school, and they attended that school for six years.

In the nineteenth century, new universities were established in a number of major German cities, including Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt am Main. The older universities had been located mainly in smaller cities, such as Heidelberg. Many of the new universities were technical universities, and Germany soon attained a leadership in science that it lost only with World War II. Universities were state supported but largely independent in matters of curriculum and administration. A university degree brought much social status and was the prerequisite for entering the professions and the higher levels of the civil service.

A serious problem of German education before World War I was the rigid differentiation between primary education, received by all, and secondary education, received mainly by the children of the more prosperous classes. This division meant that most children of the poor had no access to secondary schooling and subsequent study at the university level. After the war, the Weimar constitution outlined a democratic vision of education that would address the problem: supervision by the state, with broad legislative powers over education; uniform teacher training; a minimum of eight years of primary school attendance; continuing education until the age of eighteen years; and free education and teaching materials. Many of these reform proposals never came to fruition, however.

During the Hitler era (1933-45), the national government reversed the tradition of provincial and local control of education and sought centralized control as part of the regime's aim to impose its political and racist ideology on society. Despite an agreement with the Vatican that theoretically guaranteed the independence of Roman Catholic schools, during the 1930s the regime considerably reduced church control of the parochial school system. Universities also lost their independence. By 1936 approximately 14 percent of all professors had been dismissed because of their political views or ethnic background. The introduction of two years of military service and six months of required labor led to a rapid decline in university enrollment. By 1939 all but six universities had closed.

After the defeat of the Hitler regime in 1945, the rebuilding of the education system in the occupied zones was influenced by the political interests and educational philosophy of the occupying powers: the United States, Britain, and France in what became West Germany; and the Soviet Union in East Germany. As a result, two different education systems developed. Their political, ideological, and cultural objectives and their core curricula reflected the socioeconomic and political-ideological environments that prevailed in the two parts of Germany from 1945 to 1989.

The Western Allies had differing views on education, but the insistence of the United States on the "reeducation" of German youth, meaning an education in and for democracy, proved the most persuasive. Thus, the West German education system was shaped by the democratic values of federalism, individualism, and the provision of a range of educational choices and opportunities by a variety of public and private institutions. Students began to express themselves more freely than before and to exercise a greater degree of influence on education. In West Germany, religious institutions regained their footing and reputation. By contrast, the East German education system was centralized. The communist-controlled Socialist Unity Party of Germany (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands--SED) retained a monopoly over education and subjected it to rigid control.

Both Germanys faced the task of "denazifying" teachers and reeducating students, but they moved in different directions. The authorities in the East sought teachers who had opposed fascism and who were committed to a Marxist-Leninist ideology. In the West, authorities dismissed several thousand teachers and replaced them with educators holding democratic values. The ensuing Western reform program included reconstructing facilities and reinvigorating the system. In 1953 reforms were introduced that aimed at standardizing education throughout the Länder . In the 1960s, reforms were undertaken that introduced apprentice shops and new instruction techniques for vocational training.

The 1970s saw further major educational reform, detailed in the document Structural Plans for the Educational System . The plan was approved in 1970 by the Council of Education, which was established in 1957 to serve as an advisory committee for the entire education system, and by each Land minister of education and cultural affairs. The main components of the reform program were the reorganization of the upper level of the Gymnasium , the recruitment of more students into colleges and universities, and the establishment of the comprehensive school (Gesamtschule ). The Gesamtschule brings together the three kinds of secondary schools--the Hauptschule , the Realschule , and the Gymnasium --in an attempt to diminish what some perceived as the elitist bias of the traditional secondary education system. The program also proposed expanding adult education and vocational training programs.

The reform program achieved some but not all of its goals. The university entrance examination was made easier, and the number of students attending institutions of higher education rose from just over 200,000 in 1960 to about 1.9 million in the 1992-93 academic year (see table 11, Appendix). Between 1959 and 1979, twenty new universities were built, and university academic staff increased from 19,000 to 78,000. However, some Germans opposed the lowering of university entrance standards, and some also resisted the introduction of the Ge-samtschule . In addition, the worldwide recession brought on by the oil crisis of 1973 caused serious financial problems for the government at all levels and made reforms difficult to realize.

Despite the different educational policies implemented by the two Germanys between 1945 and 1990, both systems regarded education as a constitutional right and a public responsibility, emphasized the importance of a broad general education (Allgemeinbildung ), taught vocational education through the so-called dual system that combined classroom instruction with on-the-job training, required students to pass the Abitur examination before beginning university studies, and were committed to Humboldt's concept of university students' becoming educated by doing research. Despite these similarities, the systems differed in many important details, and the structural divergence was considerable.

<>Educational Policy Making and Administration
<>Educational Finances
<>The Education System
<>Elementary and Primary Education
<>Junior Secondary Education
<>Senior Secondary Education
<>Vocational Education and Training
<>Tertiary or Higher Education
<>Education in the New Länder

Germany - Educational Policy Making and Administration

The Basic Law of 1949 reaffirmed the nineteenth-century tradition under which the Länder were responsible for education. Article 30 clearly established the autonomy of the Länder in most educational and cultural matters, including the financing of education, the maintenance of schools, teacher training, the setting of teachers' qualifications and educational standards, and the development of standardized curricula. In higher, or tertiary, education, the Länder share responsibility with the federal government. The federal government, for example, oversees vocational education and training, a very important component of Germany's system of education. The federal government also controls the financing of stipends and educational allowances and the promotion of research and support of young scientists through fellowships. In addition, the federal government also has passed framework laws on general principles of higher education. However, the federal government has no power to reform higher education institutions; this power remains a prerogative of the Länder .

Most teachers and university-level professors are civil servants with life tenure and high standing in society. They receive generous fringe benefits and relatively lucrative compensation, while making no contributions to social security programs. In Bavaria, for example, the average starting salary for an elementary or secondary school teacher in the early 1990s was about US$40,000. A senior teacher in a Gymnasium earned about US$53,000.

Postsecondary education is a shared responsibility implemented through "cooperative federalism" and joint policy areas. The federal government and the sixteen old Länder cooperate extensively with regard to the establishment, expansion, and modernization of institutions of higher education, including their financing.

To counterbalance decentralized authority and provide leadership in education, the development of educational policy and implementation is influenced by a number of nationwide joint permanent advisory bodies. These include the Planning Committee for the Construction of Institutions of Higher Learning and the Scientific Council. Planning for education and the promotion of research by the federal government and the Länder have become more important since unification and are implemented by the Federal and Land Commission on Educational Planning and the Promotion of Research.

Germany - Educational Finances

Education is the second largest item of public spending after social security and welfare and in the 1990-91 academic year amounted to 4 percent of GNP. Education is not paid for by local property taxes but rather out of general revenues. Since 1949 the federal government, the Länder , and the local governments, including in some cases intercommunal single or multipurpose districts (Zweckverbände ), have shared in financing education. For elementary, primary, and secondary education, the Länder and the local governments are the major funding sources. The Länder are responsible for teachers' salaries, curriculum development, and the setting of standards and qualifications. Local governments are responsible for the maintenance and operation of school facilities. The Länder remain the main source of funding for higher education, but the federal government also plays a role. In 1991 the Länder paid about 74 percent of total education costs (68 percent in 1970); local governments contributed 16 percent (24 percent in 1970); and the federal government contributed 10 percent (8 percent in 1970).

Germany - The Education System

The Basic Law of 1949 grants every German citizen the right to self-fulfillment. In theory, citizens are able to choose the type of education they want and are given access to their preferred occupation or profession. The goal of educational policy is therefore to provide each citizen with opportunities to grow personally, professionally, and as a citizen in accordance with his or her abilities and preferences. The Länder are to provide equal educational opportunities and quality education for all through a variety of educational institutions.

Education is free and in most types of school is coeducational. Almost all elementary and secondary schools and about 95 percent of higher education institutions are public. College, graduate, and postgraduate students pay a nominal fee ranging from DM35 to DM60 a semester, which includes extensive rights to health care and other social benefits. When churches or private organizations run kindergartens, they do so independently, and the public sector is not involved.

According to the terms of the Düsseldorf Treaty of 1955, the first major attempt to unify or coordinate the school systems of the Länder , school attendance is mandatory for a minimum of nine years (or in some Länder ten years), beginning at age six. A student who starts vocational training as an apprentice must attend a part-time vocational school until the age of eighteen.

Germany - Elementary and Primary Education

The first level of education is called elementary education and consists of kindergarten for children ages three to five (see fig. 9). Attendance is voluntary. In the first half of the 1990s, about 80 percent of children were in kindergarten. Beginning in 1996, all children will be guaranteed a place in kindergarten. Because the former GDR had maintained an extensive kindergarten system, the new Länder had enough kindergarten places to meet this requirement. In contrast, in the early 1990s the old Länder had only enough places to accommodate about 75 percent of children in the relevant age-group.

The second level of education is called primary education and consists of the Grundschule (basic school). Children between the ages of six and ten attend the Grundschule from grades one through four. Children are evaluated in the fourth grade and tracked according to their academic records, teacher evaluations, and parent-teacher discussions. The three tracks lead to different secondary schools and play a significant role in determining a child's subsequent educational options.

Germany - Junior Secondary Education

Secondary education, the third level of education, is divided into two levels: junior secondary education (also called intermediate secondary education) and senior secondary education. Upon completion of the Grundschule , students between the ages of ten and sixteen attend one of the following types of secondary schools: the Hauptschule , the Realschule , the Gymnasium , the Gesamtschule , or the Sonderschule (for children with special educational needs). Students who complete this level of education receive an intermediate school certificate. Adults who attend two years of classes in evening schools can also earn these intermediate school certificates, which permit further study.

Junior secondary education starts with two years (grades five and six) of orientation courses during which students explore a variety of educational career paths open to them. The courses are designed to provide more time for the student and parents to decide upon appropriate subsequent education.

The Hauptschule , often called a short-course secondary school in English, lasts five or six years and consists of grades five to nine or five to ten depending on the Land . Some Länder require a compulsory tenth year or offer a two-year orientation program. About one-third of students completing primary school continue in the Hauptschule . The curriculum stresses preparation for a vocation as well as mathematics, history, geography, German, and one foreign language. After receiving their diploma, graduates either become apprentices in shops or factories while taking compulsory part-time courses or attend some form of full-time vocational school until the age of eighteen.

Another one-third of primary school graduates attend the Realschule , sometimes called the intermediate school. These schools include grades five through ten. Students seeking access to middle levels of government, industry, and business attend the Realschule . The curriculum is the same as that of the Hauptschule , but students take an additional foreign language, shorthand, wordprocessing, and bookkeeping, and they learn some computer skills. Graduation from the Realschule enables students to enter a Fachoberschule (a higher technical school) or a Fachgymnasium (a specialized high school or grammar school) for the next stage of secondary education. A special program makes it possible for a few students to transfer into the Gymnasium , but this is exceptional.

The Gymnasium , sometimes called high school or grammar school in English, begins upon completion of the Grundschule or the orientation grades and includes grades five through thirteen. The number of students attending the Gymnasium has increased dramatically in recent decades; by the mid-1990s, about one-third of all primary school graduates completed a course of study at the Gymnasium , which gives them the right to study at the university level. In the 1990s, the Gymnasium continued to be the primary educational route into the universities, although other routes have been created.

The Gesamtschule originated in the late 1960s to provide a broader range of educational opportunities for students than the traditional Gymnasium . The Gesamtschule has an all-inclusive curriculum for students ages ten to eighteen and a good deal of freedom to choose coursework. Some schools of this type have been established as all-day schools, unlike the Gymnasium , which is a part-day school with extensive homework assignments. The popularity of the Gesamtschule has been mixed. It has been resisted in more conservative areas, especially in Bavaria, where only one such school had been established by the beginning of the 1990s. A few more were established in Bavaria in the next few years; their presence is marginal when compared with the Gymnasium , of which there were 395 in 1994. Even North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous Land and an outspoken supporter of the Gesamtschule , had only 181, compared with 623 of the traditional Gymasium .

Germany - Senior Secondary Education

The variety of educational programs, tracks, and opportunities available to students increases at the senior secondary level. The largest single student group attends the senior level of the Gymnasium , the Gymnasiale Oberstufe . This level includes the traditional academically oriented Gymnasium , the vocational Gymnasium , the occupation-specific Fachgymnasium , and the Gesamtschule . Graduation from these schools requires passing the Abitur , the qualifying examination for studying at the university level. Until the late 1970s, nearly everyone who passed the Abitur had access to an institution of higher education. However, in the 1980s the numerus clausus , a restrictive quota system that had been introduced for the study of medicine in the late 1960s, began to be used for other popular fields of study. Strict selection criteria limiting access to higher education had become necessary because the demand for places at universities had become much greater than the supply.

Germany - Vocational Education and Training

The German education system has been praised for its ability to provide quality general education combined with excellent specific training for a profession or a skilled occupation. In 1992 about 65 percent of the country's workforce had been trained through vocational education. In the same year, 2.3 million young people were enrolled in vocational or trade schools.

Building upon the junior secondary program, the Berufsschulen are two- and three-year vocational schools that prepare young people for a profession. In the 1992-93 academic year, there were 1.8 million enrolled in these schools. About 264,000 individuals attended Berufsfachschulen , also called intermediate technical schools (ITS). These schools usually offer full-time vocation-specific programs. They are attended by students who want to train for a specialty or those already in the workforce who want to earn the equivalent of an intermediate school certificate from a Realschule . Full-time programs take between twelve and eighteen months, and part-time programs take between three and three-and-one-half years. Other types of schools designed to prepare students for different kinds of vocational careers are the higher technical school (HTS), the Fachoberschule , attended by about 75,000 persons in 1992-93, and the advanced vocational school (AVS), the Berufsaufbauschule , attended by about 6,500 persons in the same year. Students can choose to attend one of these three kinds of schools after graduating with an intermediate school certificate from a Realschule or an equivalent school.

The method of teaching used in vocational schools is called the dual system because it combines classroom study with a work-related apprenticeship system. The length of schooling/training depends on prior vocational experience and may entail one year of full-time instruction or up to three years of part-time training.

Students can earn the Fachhochschulreife after successfully completing vocational education and passing a qualifying entrance examination. The Fachhochschulreife entitles a student to enter a Fachhochschule , or a training college, and to continue postsecondary occupational or professional training in engineering or technical fields. Such programs last from six months to three years (full-time instruction) or six to eight years (part-time instruction). Some students with many years of practical experience or those with special skills may also attend a Fachhochschule .

Vocational education and training is a joint government-industry program. The federal government and the Länder share in the financing of vocational education in public vocational schools, with the federal government bearing a slightly higher share (58 percent in 1991) than the Länder . On-the-job vocational training, whose cost is entirely borne by companies and businesses, is more costly to provide than vocational education. In the early 1990s, companies and businesses annually spent 2 percent of their payrolls on training.

Germany - Tertiary or Higher Education

In the 1992-93 academic year, higher education was available at 314 institutions of higher learning, with about 1.9 million students enrolled. Institutions of higher learning included eighty-one universities and technical universities, seven comprehensive universities (Gesamthochschulen ), eight teacher-training colleges, seventeen theological seminaries, 126 profession-specific technical colleges, thirty training facilities in public administration (Verwaltungsfachhochschulen ), and forty-five academies for art, music, and literature. Nearly 80 percent, or 250, of these institutions were located in the old Länder , and sixty-four were in the new Länder . Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia had the largest share of these institutions, sixty-one and forty-nine, respectively. In 1990 about 69.7 percent of students at tertiary-level institutions went to universities and engineering schools, and another 21.7 percent attended vocational training colleges (Fachhochschulen ).

German university students can complete their first degree in about five years, but on average university studies last seven years. Advanced degrees require further study. Because tuition at institutions of higher education amounts to no more than a nominal fee except at the handful of private universities, study at the university level means only meeting living expenses. An extensive federal and Land program provides interest-free loans to students coming from lower-income households. Half of the loan must be paid within five years of graduation. Students graduating in the top third of their class or within a shorter time than usual have portions of their loans forgiven. Loans are also available to students receiving technical and vocational training. In the early 1990s, about half of all students were obliged to work while attending university.

Unlike the United States, Germany does not have a group of elite universities; none enjoys a reputation for greater overall excellence than is enjoyed by the others. Instead, particular departments of some universities are commonly seen as very good in their field. For example, the University of Cologne has a noted economics faculty. Also in contrast to the United States, German universities do not offer much in the way of campus life, and collegiate athletics are nearly nonexistent. Universities generally consist of small clusters of buildings dispersed throughout the city in which they are located. Students do not live on university property, although some are housed in student dormitories operated by churches or other nonprofit organizations.

Germany - Education in the New Länder

The Soviet-supported SED centralized and politicized education far more than had been the case during the Hitler era. About 70 percent of teachers and all school counselors, superintendents, members of the teachers' union, and school administrators were SED members, often performing both professional and party functions. In theory, parents were part of the educational process, but in practice they were expected to support party educational policy. Teacher-student ratios were low--1:5 compared with 1:18 in West Germany.

Under the new system, public education was expanded by establishing preschools and kindergartens. Because most women returned to work after six months of maternity leave, these new schools were widely attended. Lowered standards of admission and scholarships expanded access to higher education for working-class children and diminished its elitist bias. The state emphasized education in "socialist values" and Marxism-Leninism at all levels of the system, following the Soviet model. Students were required to spend one day per week working in a factory, in an office, or on a farm in order to reinforce the importance of labor.

In terms of organization, all types of schools were replaced by a uniform ten-grade polytechnical school, which emphasized technical education. Upon graduation from this school, about 85 percent of students entered a two-year vocational education school. The remaining students attended special classes to prepare for university studies, some going to an extension of secondary school for two years, others attending vocational school for three years. The GDR had six universities, nine technical universities, and several dozen specialized institutions of higher education. In the 1950s and 1960s, the children of workers were favored for university study. In later decades, the children of the intelligentsia (state officials, professionals, and academicians) again formed a greater part of the student population. However, in addition to passing the qualifying examination, students had to demonstrate political loyalty and commitment to Marxist-Leninist ideology. Throughout their schooling, children were constantly exposed to party ideology and values.

The system had a strong vocational element that focused on providing a bridge to adult work. The system was particularly successful in some respects; literacy was practically universal by 1989, and the proportion of unskilled workers and trainees in the workforce fell from 70 percent in 1955 to 13 percent in 1989. The system was best suited to the teaching of mathematics, the natural sciences, and other technical and nonideological subjects. It was less effective in teaching the social sciences, current affairs, and information technology. Language teaching emphasized Russian, which was compulsory. Few learned other European languages such as English or French.

The revolutionary events of November 1989 led to an abrupt transformation of the institutional, political, and philosophical foundations of education in the GDR. In heated debates, grassroots groups of parents, teachers, and citizens discussed the future of education and vocational training in the new Länder . By May 1990, the GDR educational leadership had been dismissed, and steps had been taken to reduce the bloated educational bureaucracy. Evaluation commissions reassessed the quality of research and academic institutions and their staff, and many social science departments suspended activity until they were evaluated. Departments of Marxism-Leninism were closed outright, and most institutions modeled on the Soviet system were dismantled.

In May 1990, the ministers of education of the Länder agreed that the new Länder should develop their own educational strategies. The unification treaty of August 31, 1990, specified that this should be done by June 30, 1991, when the new Länder were expected to have passed new laws on education. A major change effected by those laws is the replacement of the general polytechnic school with the range of educational models prevailing in West Germany. The five new Länder , with the exception of Brandenburg, introduced the four-year Grundschule . Brandenburg established a six-year Grundschule , like that found in Berlin. Secondary schooling also resembles that of the old Länder in that the Gymnasium is common to all; however, other schools at the junior secondary level differ somewhat in their names and organization. Education at the senior secondary level resembles closely that of the old Länder .

Higher education has also seen changes. To improve geographic access to higher education, regions previously without institutions of higher learning have received a number of such institutions. In other regions, institutions of higher learning have been abolished, some of which have been replaced by Fachhochschulen , nonexistent in the former GDR. University staffs have also been cut, sometimes by as much as 50 percent. Within two or three years of unification, about 25 percent of university faculty were arrivals from the old Länder . By late 1994, institutions of higher learning in the new Länder had benefited from annual payments from western Germany of about DM3 billion.

Although the old structure has been replaced, observers agree that the values and preferences internalized by parents, students, and teachers who came to maturity in the GDR can be expected to survive for many years. Because it lasted decades longer than nazism, the Marxist-Leninist influence on education in the new Länder will probably take far longer to overcome.





CITATION: Federal Research Division of the
Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.


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