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Sachsen-Anhalt: Outmigration and Highly Unbalanced Sex Ratio Structures

Sachsen-Anhalt is one of the five New Federal States in Eastern-Germany (largest cities: Halle (233.000) and Magdeburg (231.000, 2010)). Since the German reunification the state is strongly affected by the consequences of outmigration, over aging and deindustrialisation. Young people, especially young women, are disproportionately overrepresented among the out-migrants. Especially the rural and old industrialised parts of Sachsen-Anhalt are affected by a pronounced, long-lasting depopulation and imbalanced sex ratio. There are only between 78 and 85 females per 100 males in the age-group 20-29 in the most rural districts of the state.


Economic Development and labour market

In the former GDR the region was an important location of the chemical and heavy industries. Massive job losses caused by the transformation from planned to market economy could not be counterbalanced by new jobs created in other economic sectors. As a consequence, the unemployment rate is well above the German average. Youth unemployment is an important social and economic issue in Sachsen-Anhalt – at the same time first effects of a shortage of skilled labour are becoming apparent. The difficult economic situation, wage differences, especially between eastern and western German regions, as well as unattractive conditions on the female labour market are supposed to be important factors, when explaining out-migration of young women from Sachsen-Anhalt.


Vicious circle

The peripheral rural areas are increasingly affected by a downward spiral of deindustrialisation, job losses, out-migration and falling demand for goods and services. At a progressing rate, this vicious circle also negatively influences small and middle-sized towns in Sachsen-Anhalt. This trend clearly contradicts the aims for improved territorial cohesion defined by the European Commission (Green paper on territorial cohesion 2008). Given the low birth rate in Germany, influencing migration behaviour is the only way to prevent or mitigate depopulation.