Social division in german cities increases rapidly

Social division in german cities increases rapidly

The poor and the rich in german cities are increasingly living together on the tur. The social divide is particularly pronounced in eastern germany, according to a study published today by the berlin science center for social research.

For their study, the authors investigated the social mix in 74 german cities from 2005 to 2014. In about 80 percent of these municipalities, the spatial concentration of people living on state social benefits such as hartz IV had increased. In eastern germany, the development is much more noticeable, at 23 percent, than in western german cities, at around 8 percent.

The highest values of social inequality in housing were determined by researchers in the east for rostock, schwerin, potsdam, erfurt, halle and weimar. But some cities in western germany were also badly affected, including kiel, saarbrucken and koln. "So far, we only know this level from american cities," said researcher marcel helbig. The dynamic of change is "historically unprecedented," especially in the east. This also has social consequences: those who no longer experience the problems of their neighbors with little money at first hand can more easily ignore a piece of the reality of life. And those who live in the "poor ghetto" may develop less desire to move up the ladder.

According to the analysis, there are now neighborhoods in 36 german cities where more than half of the children are dependent on state benefits. The scientists calculated the highest values here for rostock, berlin, halle and schwerin. "This development can have a negative impact on the life chances of poor children," said author stefanie jahnen. "We know from research that neighborhood influences educational success."

One surprise for researchers was that many social housing units actually increased spatial inequality in a city. Jahnen explained that social housing today is mainly found in neighborhoods where the poor already live. In more desirable locations, such as old neighborhoods, they often fell out of the social bond. As a long-term solution for the municipalities, the authors recommend that new buildings in better residential areas should always be subject to strict requirements for a proportion of social housing. The example of munich shows that construction is nevertheless taking place.

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