Skip to comments.Shortage of Women in East Germany Causes Turmoil
Posted on 12/26/2003 8:06:25 AM PST by BerniesFriend
Shortage of Women in East Germany Causes Turmoil 2 hours, 51 minutes ago
By Erik Kirschbaum
LIEBENTHAL, Germany (Reuters) - A steady exodus of educated women is worsening a gender gap among eastern Germany's young and could be sowing the seeds of social upheaval.
There are now more than 130 men for every 100 women in rural parts of the East and demographic researchers fear the surplus will widen as educated young women continue to leave the former communist region.
Depopulation has long been a problem for the East, but the disproportionate number of women leaving has caused concerns that a dearth of females of child-bearing age will speed the decline and worries about what will happen to the men left behind.
Sociologists and demographic experts studying the phenomenon of a "surplus of men" in the East, as some political leaders prefer to call it, say eastern women seem to find jobs or partners in the wealthier West more easily than eastern men.
"Eastern women seem to be more mobile than men, and tend to have more education and skills," said Harald Michel, director of the Institute for Applied Demography in Berlin that has long been studying the flight of the East's "best and the brightest."
"Eastern women appear more successful in finding jobs or partners in the West. There are few jobs in the East, so large numbers of men and women go west. But the women tend to settle in the West and never come back while most of the men return. The surplus of men in the East is getting wider all the time."
NO LOVE FOR 'LOVE VALLEY'
"Liebenthal" is the German word for "Love Valley," but there appears to be little affinity among young people for the town of 260 people that lies in a region with a 20 percent unemployment rate 50 miles north of Berlin.
"It's deads-ville here," said Dirk Arndt, 19, who grew up in Liebenthal and is training to become a welder in a nearby town. "It's a totally boring place. There's nothing to do and no place to go. Everyone I know is trying to leave."
Apart from just one small restaurant on Main Street, there is little for Liebenthal youths to do other than plan their escape. Arndt said Liebenthal was dying and would become a ghost town.
He and his friend Tobias Seeger needed only a few seconds to name the three girls their age who still live in town.
"You never see girls hanging out in Liebenthal because there aren't many left," said 17-year-old Seeger.
For girls a good education is the most promising way to get out.
"I'm going to get out of here as soon as I'm finished with school," said Janine Heiner, 17, from nearby Liebenwalde. She plans to spend a year working as an au pair in the United States to learn English and better her chances of escape.
"There are no jobs here, no money to earn and no future. There's nothing left here." Heiner hopes to end up in France, Russia or the United States -- anywhere but Liebenthal.
Tina Brotzeit, 16, said there were girls in her school but she rarely saw any of them in town.
"You hardly ever see girls hanging around outside," she said. "Only boys, nothing but boys."
GENDER GAP MAY LEAD TO SOCIAL UNREST
A review of data from the Federal Statistics Office in Weisbaden shows that there are 279,626 more men than women between the ages of 15 and 50 in the five eastern German states -- with the biggest surplus of men (69,605) in the 20 to 25 age group, where there are 481,760 men and 412,165 women.
That is a ratio of nearly 120 men to 100 women for all of the east, but Michel said that the gap is 130 to 100 or even higher in depressed rural regions north of Berlin.
"Imagine the consequences of a third of the male population having no chance of finding a partner," said Michel. "Alcoholism, welfare dependency, poverty -- the ingredients are there for more social tension, extremism and even violence."
Depopulation has plagued hundreds of towns and cities throughout the ex-communist east. Nearly 2 million people have left since German unification in 1990, mainly because there are no jobs. The East's population is now 15 million and there are more than a million vacant apartments.
The net loss slowed in the mid-1990s but has picked up to about 100,000 each year now. About 300,000 easterners leave the region each year, most in search of jobs, while about 200,000 return.
"The first to take off are young women with skills," said Ulf Matthiesen, researcher at the Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning in Erkner. He has published a controversial paper warning the East was turning into a region of "imbeciles" because of the brain drain.
Recent testing by the Defense Ministry of armed forces recruits aged 18 to 22 seemed to confirm his fears, finding that the language, mathematical and logical thinking skills of eastern men was well below the national average.
Matthiesen said there was a danger that rural regions would one day be occupied only by "village fools without a chance of having families or female partners."
That's an odd choice of three places to "escape to." Why would anyone want to escape to France or Russia? Call me clueless.
They could always revert to state-sponsored white slavery..
If you send any America women over here, don't send this one.
I don't remember. Did that model look anything like those East German swimmers? :)
Socialism appears to be reaping some long-term benefits.
Well, if the men would quit enbracing the cradle to grave socialistic welfare system, embrace capitalism, and get off their lazy butts and produce capital (and thusly, jobs!) then the women might come back.
< /feminist rant off >
Now, since the women are smart enough (just barely) to realize that they need to go where the jobs are, and are trying to better their position, why don't the guys do it also?
On a related note...
Aren't we told that 10% of the population is homosexual? Wouldn't that make this problem overstated?
...oh, I guess not, since it applies to both genders.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.