Study on german unity: beer vs. Schnapps

How much are East and West united 25 years after the fall of the Wall? One study says: not so much when it comes to money, cars and alcohol, but they are when it comes to sex.

Here’s to unity! Photo: dpa

Wessis are arrogant, think the Ossis. They consider themselves hard-working and modest. Many West Germans also believe that those from the new federal states are somehow different, but they don’t really have a clear picture of "the East German. The division of Germany is still present in people’s minds 25 years after reunification.

This is one of the findings of the study "This is how unity works" by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development. But the surveys also show that the mental wall is crumbling. Among people born after 1989, prejudices are diminishing. "Especially if they have contact with people from the other part of the country," says Stephan Sievert of the Berlin Institute.

In many respects, East and West have almost completely converged. This applies, for example, to life expectancy and the age at first pregnancy. The years-long migration of East Germans to the West are now almost balanced out by the opposite. If you ask both groups what they spend their money on, the all-German answer is: housing, cars, food.

A look at the brand preferences, however, reveals certain historical-local ties. The West Germans prefer to drive BMWs, while the East Germans – in keeping with their modest nature – prefer Škodas. In the West, people drink Beck’s, in Brandenburg and the like rather Radeberger, but they prefer hard alcohol even more.

Only half as much wealth

Economically, the two parts of Germany continue to diverge. The findings are not new: on average, East Germans earn a quarter less than people in the West, and their wealth is even only half as great.

The study’s data is extensive. However, the explanations should be taken with a grain of salt. Because every statistician knows: correlation does not equal causality, and the obvious explanation is not always correct. For example, Sievert has only one explanation for the low wages in the new federal states: too low productivity. "The fact that a large number of the companies sold by the Treuhand had to close right away shows that there was a massive productivity problem."

While the economic alignment is still awaiting realization, at least one finding gives hope that the wall in people’s minds will continue to shrink: In bed, Germans don’t give a damn whether East or West Germans fall asleep next to them.

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