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The Relationship Between Unemployment and Communist-era Legacies in Leipzig, Germany: a Survey of Local Inhabitants

by David Hunn[1], Department of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham



This research explores the combination of communist legacies and post-communist economic policies that drive the disproportionately high rates of long-term unemployment in Leipzig, Germany. It does this by using the opinions gathered through in-depth interviews with individuals linked to unemployment in different ways, ranging from unemployed people themselves to business development officers. It concludes that the main reason for high unemployment is that the legacies of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) have created serious socio-economic problems which can create unemployment, although this is not a 'cause and effect' relationship. It also highlights the emerging problem of generational unemployment which may play a significant role in the future, if not addressed promptly.

Keywords: Long-term unemployment, German Democratic Republic, socio-economic legacies, Leipzig, reunification of Germany



Following the reunification of Germany on 3 October 1990, the German Democratic Republic's (GDR) economy became cost-based and the manufacturing factories were shut down as the 'new' politicians of Germany decided the processes were too labour-intensive and the machinery was outdated. The centre of Leipzig, formerly industrial but also a centre for commerce with a world-famous trade fair, started to attract banking, retailing, and other services. By 1992, 80% of the businesses in the city were service-based, with manufacturing falling on average 50% a year, despite the opening of manufacturing facilities for BMW and Porsche. The population of both the former GDR and Leipzig have also shrunk since 1990: the former GDR by 8%, and Leipzig by around 20% (Kabisch et al., 2006: 2); this affects the socio-economic conditions by dissuading investment in capital and opportunities. Ironically, unemployment and out-migration are closely interlinked, with one affecting the other (Bontje, 2004).

Unemployment, at 10.4%, was fairly low in the early 1990s, but only because of massive funding from West Germany (Bellmann, 1994; Elias and Steiner, 1998). Official unemployment statistics suggest that unemployment was falling in Leipzig; on 30 September 2008, there were 38,000 people officially unemployed, compared to over 42,000 people on 30 September 2007, a decline of -9.5%. At the time this research was carried out, there were 38,465 officially unemployed, which made up 17.1% of the working population (Stadt Leipzig, 2008).

This paper aims to establish whether the interviewees think it is the socialist economic legacies of GDR or whether it is the new capitalist policies implemented on Leipzig by the former West German government that have had the greatest impact in terms of creating high levels of long-term unemployment. It will also explore whether these views conflict with the literature with regard to the legacies of policies implemented during the GDR. A further objective is to uncover any other reasons for long-term unemployment in Leipzig that are neither mentioned above nor in the literature. This research is valuable as it gives a voice to people who are linked with unemployment in Leipzig, voices which are rarely heard, and it could be argued that these people are best positioned to find a solution to a problem that has blighted Germany's peaceful reunification.

Defining 'legacies'

The legacies of the GDR can account for a number of issues, from the institutional structures of the old regime hindering future, free-market development, to an individual's experience of socialism changing their work ethic and qualifications, thus hampering their ability to be re-employed. They also include 'distrust in institutions and a lack of genuine societal participation' (Grix, 2000: 112), thereby impeding future local economic development. Grabher and Stark (1997: 3) describe legacies of the GDR 'not just as residues of the past but also [they] can be used for resources for the future'. Legacies are relevant to this study as the main aim is to examine whether these legacies have affected unemployment, and this can only be done by understanding what exactly these legacies are.


German Labour Market Policy Since 1990

Before significant privatisation had occurred in the former GDR, it was decided by West German unions and executives of state-owned enterprises in the GDR that collective bargaining would be used to bring GDR wages up to the Western level (Fitzroy and Funke, 1996). A significant problem with this was that there was already an absence of a voice of the GDR's workers, as their unions had not yet been established on similar Western models. West German unions were keen to introduce wage parity as quickly as possible, as the predicted massive inward migration of GDR workers could have damaged the West German labour market, and caused greater social problems in general.

There was a dual effort to implement a 'transformation from above', namely the splitting up of the GDR's enterprises and handing over control to Western ones, and a 'transformation from below', whereby the establishment of new enterprises was encouraged. The Treuhand (English – 'trusteeship') was responsible for the top-down approach. This was described by Kaser (1996: 1-2) as 'an independent government agency…[which] develops potentially viable firms into competitive enterprises and then transfers them to private ownership'. Therefore, the 'transformation from above' (Nativel, 2004: 118) was controlled by the West, which resulted in the priorities not being directed at the GDR's development, but instead at West German profits. The 'transformation from below' (Nativel, 2004: 118) prioritised the creation of new enterprises in the GDR, and therefore job creation. After the initial explosion, activity slowed dramatically (Nativel, 2004). This could be due to the fact that the GDR's household goods did not match their Western counterparts in terms of quality, and therefore demand slumped. In addition to this, 90% of new businesses in Leipzig would fail (Jancius, 2006).

The Arbeitsbeschaffungsmaßnahmen (ABM) was a major scheme to try to reduce long-term unemployment by creating more jobs, originating from a West German scheme aimed at keeping employment high during times of economic depression (Jancius, 2006). It was publicly funded by the employment office, costing DM 26 billion (around £13 billion in 2009 equivalent) (Lechner, 1999), and more than 2 million people have participated in it since its creation in 1991 (Eichler and Lechner, 2002). It has been argued by numerous academics (Reinowski et al., 2004; Kraus et al., 2000; Hübler, 1997) that the ABM could even have negative effects on an individual's chances of getting back into employment.


Academic Opinions on the Causes of East German Unemployment

Clasen et al. note that the former GDR lacks 'public provision of childcare places' (Clasen et al., 1997: 35), and therefore it is more difficult for unemployed parents to return to employment. This is something which would have been unthinkable prior to 1991, where women were encouraged to be part of the workforce and childcare was provided by the state; this therefore makes it a communist legacy, albeit not like others. In a later study, Clasen et al. (1998) conclude that it is the top-down approach of the employment office in Germany that is to blame for the high levels of long-term unemployment that persist. They also believe that the job market is more favourable to young people with less experience than those who have been working for a long time, noting that the long-term unemployed have an average age of 51 and an average of 27 years' work experience.

Elias and Steiner (1998) carried out a statistical analysis of the persistence of unemployment in Germany as a whole. They found that males are not likely to be unemployed for a long time but on the other hand females and workers of both genders aged over 45 are much more likely to be. The study also concluded that after a few months being unemployed, the probability of East Germans getting back into employment is low. The study also concluded that qualifications will have little advantage in helping a person become re-employed after being unemployed for a few months.

On the other hand, Hall and Ludwig (2007) argue that it is the neoclassical model of economics that was applied to the former GDR that has caused persistently high unemployment rates. They argue that a massive and sudden increase in labour productivity due to redundancy created more unemployed people than the labour market could absorb elsewhere. They also argue that the shift of company headquarters to West Germany is another major factor for high unemployment, with the Western headquarters reducing or shutting down production 'especially for those firms producing similar products' (p. 608). This is why the former GDR cannot be compared to neighbouring post-Soviet transition countries, as the GDR had a 'Big Brother' (p. 609) overseeing and influencing its privatisation.

'The Caring Hand that Cripples' (Snower and Merkl, 2006) argues that the reason unemployment is high in the former GDR is directly because of the funding it receives from West Germany. They argue that the former GDR should not be 'the envy of their newly-capitalist neighbours' (p. 1) as this financial support is what is causing the unemployment. They argue that the 'caring hand of the West' (p. 2) has caused traps in the labour force, which help maintain high unemployment. These traps are the 'low-skill trap' (p. 12) (staying unemployed means losing out on on-the-job training, and therefore maintaining unemployment); the 'ageing trap' (p. 12) (younger workers migrate, causing the ageing workforce to make the market inflexible and unskilled, thus deterring new investment and causing capital underutilisation); and the 'wrong capital-skills trap' (p. 12) (investment from West Germany has encouraged firms to be uncompetitive and keep labour productivity low, thus reducing employment).

In a study similar in methodology to this one, van Hoven-Iganski (2000) highlights how the experience of unemployment was previously unknown to rural women, associated instead with 'alcoholics […] and criminals' (p. 139). She also highlights the importance of the workplace, stating that it is 'the predominant factor in the development of women's identity' (p. 167). She concludes that the Western ideals introduced since unification have produced a 'gender-differentiated labour market' (p. 167), where women suffer as a result of discrimination, lack of qualifications and a lack of mobility.

All these literatures reviewed (Clasen et al., 1997, 1998; Elias and Steiner, 1998; van Hoven-Iganski, 2000; Snower and Merkl, 2006; Hall and Ludwig, 2007) acknowledge that there is high long-term unemployment in the former GDR. This is important as this research is based on the assumption that this is the case. However, one must argue that these studies are either too broad (Elias and Steiner, 1998; Hall and Ludwig, 2007; Snower and Merkl, 2006) or too narrow (Clasen et al., 1997, 1998; van Hoven-Iganski, 2000) in their methodology. The first group focus on different aspects of economic modelling of the GDR as a whole, which cannot be applied to individually-affected cities. The second group focus exclusively on the unemployed, who cannot surely be the only ones with substantive opinions on the causes of unemployment.



Qualitative methods consisting of interviews were carried out for the purposes of the research project upon which this paper is based. This is a useful method as it encourages participants who are well-informed about the topic to examine their opinions on the issue critically, and can open doors to further results, doors which are normally locked in quantitative research. The interviews were conversational and in-depth, and were conducted with a number of different people in Leipzig (for a sample interview see Appendix A). A total of eleven interviews were carried out for the data needed; ten in person and one via email. Although this does not seem a substantial number, the length and breadth of the interviews provided a great deal of information, and the different target groups linked to unemployment were all accounted for, with the exception of one. The 'large employer' group were all unwilling to be interviewed for this research. The main difficulty faced, however, was trying to contact unemployed individuals; this was overcome through meeting individuals at events for the unemployed (such as church breakfasts), who would then provide further contacts.

The interviewees were from a broad range of areas directly or indirectly linked to unemployment: there were five long-term unemployed people, an employment agency employee, an executive from the local Agentur für Arbeit (equivalent to JobCentre in the UK), a Leipzig economic development officer, a church organiser, a community organiser and an urban development officer. This specific selection of interviewees is what makes this research important, and attempts to fill the void left by previous research into East German unemployment. One must argue that it was vital to interview people who were of working age in the GDR, or had grown up in the GDR, as they would be more aware of legacies that have existed since then; all those interviewed were of working age, and eight out of the eleven interviewees grew up in the GDR.


Interview Analysis and Discussion

Unemployed interviewees' opinions on why they are/have been unemployed

Although reasons differed between the long-term unemployed people as to why they have been and still are unemployed, the issue of qualifications arose in every interview. One interviewee described how she felt that she 'should have applied for a job as a lower qualified person, so I would get a job and everything […] I was too expensive for the employer' (Claudia, unemployed). This interviewee went on numerous training courses in the nineties, which were 'advised by universities' and quite often she had to pay for them, but they did not help her employment chances. She also stated that 'the knowledge of the East, it's like something that means you always have to train yourself […] I have a degree in something, from the GDR time, and I tried to get a [good] job, but it wasn't possible'. This was also a point made by another interviewee: 'They are looking for people with qualifications […] it's what I don't have in a way. They are looking for Western qualifications' (Imre, unemployed). These opinions suggest that it may be difficult for older workers to get jobs in the Western market similar to those that they used to have in the GDR, due to Western companies not appreciating their previous qualifications because it is not a 'Diploma from uni' (Claudia). These opinions are also supported by Elias and Steiner's (1998) study.

Age was also considered by long-term unemployed people as a factor restricting their employment chances. One believed that 'thanks to the market economy, it is almost hopeless for me at the age of 46 to gain a foothold in my dream job […] I still have a little self-control and a small glimmer of hope, but at nearly 50, no future' (Jens, unemployed). This interviewee also believed that 'each employer prefers to take cheaper probationers and no older ones who have so much experience and 3 children'. This view is supported by another interviewee who commented 'the main obstacle stopping me is age' (Imre, unemployed). Clasen et al. (1997) suggest that one reason for unemployment amongst women in particular is that there is a lack of childcare facilities for working parents. This is something that would not have happened in the GDR, and Stark's (1997: 3) argument of legacies being 'resources for the future' would have a positive meaning here. Although none of the interviewees directly acknowledged that there is a lack of childcare facilities now, Claudia suggested that it was the case in the 1990s, as she had to leave her child in a negative environment with her unstable partner.

The unemployed people interviewed also admitted that their state of mind has affected them in one way or another, having both positive and negative effects on their employment chances. One who thinks positively comments how he had 'seen the guys sitting in front of Rewe (a supermarket); I could sit there with a beer bottle in my hand, but I am not doing that, I am doing the ABM to get some money for this' (Erich, unemployed). This, however, was a minority view and the rest of the unemployed people interviewed expressed the downward spiral their employment situation has had on their state of mind: 'I was 40 and I was a woman from the East […] I got bullied quite a lot as well as I was psychologically not well […] I did therapy for "who needs me" for ten weeks […] you don't dare to do it; you don't feel encouraged to do anything in the short or long time' (Claudia). Jens was clearly the most affected out of the unemployed interviewees, expressing that 'ideals and self-realisation had to be newly learnt after the Wende. All the enterprises which I had helped to set up were systematically destroyed after the Wende thanks to the Treuhand'. The last quote shows complete disdain for the reunification. 'Wende' is the word by which Germans refer to unification, and it literally means 'turning point'.

Effects of second and third labour market on unemployed people

The second and third labour markets are what most unemployed people rely on. The second labour market is organised by the government, on a local and national level, and includes schemes such as the ABM: it is publicly financed and scrutinised. The third labour market, on the other hand, is privately funded and does not necessarily include formal work; it can include a number of things like job application advice and informal church meetings. The idea of a third labour market was something that interviewees acknowledged; it was observed through this research, and is not found in current academic work. It is arguably as vital to the long-term unemployed as the secondary labour market.

The opinions expressed on the secondary labour market were generally positive. There was the widely held opinion that these schemes are important to stop people 'slipping through the net' (Hans, church organiser). The main scheme is the ABM, and it is normally described as a 'good scheme' (Claudia). It was seen as vital: 'if there is not enough jobs you have to get people in the secondary labour market […] to be able to [get them] a job in the first labour market' (Hans), and that it also helps 'to get people into perspective' (Gerhard, business development officer) as 'long-term unemployed people […] need daily life' (Klaus, chairman of Agentur für Arbeit).

Numerous churches and charities in Leipzig work with unemployed people in one way or another, whether it be minor assistance such as providing them with breakfast or help with issues such as 'advice on how to manage all [their] problems' (Hans), or more engaging tasks like keeping them active in local schemes, which have been described as 'tiny and important things' (Bernadette, chairman of private quarter development project). The views expressed by the people interviewed differed on the effect that this area can have on unemployed people. Jens thought it was 'mere things to pass the time', while Bernadette and Klaus believed that 'they do, but it could have been so much more if there would be a change in the system' as 'you need to have a system and it has to play with everything'.

Opinions on unemployment statistics

Grix (2000: 112) noted that 'distrust in institutions and a lack of genuine societal participation' is a legacy of communism that could affect the chances of being re-employed. This can be seen particularly amongst the interviewees in the way they view unemployment statistics. They believed that these figures do not represent the real scale of unemployment in the city as 'they can get retired [early] then they go out of the statistics too […] I think it is hidden' (Hans). The issue of unemployment statistics was something that the unemployed people interviewed spoke particularly passionately about, suggesting that they were made up by the 'lying' (Claudia) employment office. Jens went as far as suggesting that 'groups of people were temporarily placed into fictitious, ominous training or measures to combat unemployment'.

Opinions on the closure of GDR firms after unification

With eight out of the eleven interviewees originally from the GDR, it comes as little surprise that they did not have very positive opinions about the fast closure of the GDR firms after unification. Claudia believed it was 'shit because the [West] German government just wanted to have us as a continuation and as consumers', with Jens describing the new German government as 'the conqueror' which created 'systematic destruction' of the GDR economy. It is not just unemployed people who are angry about the closure of GDR firms: Angela described it as 'just the kind of thing nobody understood why it happened. West Germany just came over and they had more money and different knowledge'.

Some are also able to see it as necessary. Erich described how he 'wasn't sure if they were closed down just to help West German companies. Of course when you have a company and nothing to do you need to close down. It is difficult'. Gerhard argued that it was 'a tragedy for the people that worked in these firms but to a certain extent it was just a normal process'. Hans supported this view, stating that 'they produced uneconomically so I think it had to come like this. In a capitalistic system you cannot produce like this […] but they should have looked at making it a longer process, reducing the jobs'. This is the same opinion which this paper and some academics (Jancius, 2006; Goedicke, 2006) would support about the closure or privatisation of GDR firms.

The role of government and city officials in creating employment

On this topic almost all interviewees, including the long-term unemployed people, believed that Leipzig city officials and the German federal government should not create jobs, as they 'are jobs just so people do something so it's not the best for them' (Angela, employment consultant). Had this issue been raised twenty years previously, most people would probably have answered that it was the government's duty to create and provide jobs. However, some interviewees believed that officials still had a big role to play in affecting the number of jobs in Leipzig as 'they have the chance to influence the development of unemployment because [of the] structural conditions' (Gerhard). It was also argued that 'the most important thing for the economy in Leipzig is to attract more companies' (Angela). Erich went as far as arguing that '[city officials] do enough, they can't do more, and they can't create jobs'. Klaus, a city official, argued that 'the main task for the city is to look after the infrastructure for the companies; that it is lucrative for companies to come over here. There are some local taxes for companies to pay, and these taxes are very high, and the discussion is to lower this tax'. Hans argued that '[officials] have to reduce the time of work', which is a point supported by Seifert (1991), who reveals that a slight reduction in working hours amongst the entire labour market in Germany could help create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Main reason for high long-term unemployment rates

With the exception of one answer, the interviewees' opinions on the main reason for high long-term unemployment can be placed into two groups. The first believed that 'the most obvious reason' (Bernadette) for high unemployment in Leipzig is 'there are no jobs' which results in the fact that the 'well-educated and so on move away' (Bernadette). This was something even admitted by a chairman of the Agentur für Arbeit. It was also noted that this creates problems for Leipzig's large student population, as those graduating often have to 'leave as they can't find jobs' (Angela). The second group of people, larger than the other group, believed that it is communist legacies which have created unemployment, as 'the whole reunification was a really big social problem to cope with' (Gerhard). However, interviewees could not put their finger on one legacy, as 'the answer is not very simple; you cannot say it is one reason' (Klaus). Also, whereas Erich believed that Leipzig had particular problems 'compared to the north of the former GDR', Hans believed that it is 'not just in Leipzig but a problem of the East. I think it's because the change of the system came too quick'.

Bernadette, a chairman of a private quarter development project, had an opinion about high unemployment rates that was not originally conceived by this research. The idea that 'poverty reproduces poverty' is present in the Western literature (see for example May, 2000), but has not yet been attributed as a cause for post-communist unemployment. 'The other part is those who are in the second or even in some instances the third generation after the wall has been torn down do not have work, have problems with alcohol and there is no future, no perspective of things' (Bernadette). This basically suggests that social constraints placed upon a family can create 'generational unemployment'. In other words, as a child has grown up with their parent/s unemployed since 1989, they will have 'no perspective' of how things could be different.

Opinions about the best way to reduce unemployment

A number of different opinions were given with respect to this question. Hans, for example, believed that as there is no 'social capitalism' this is the main problem, and the only way to fix the problems would be 'to change the system'. On the other hand, Gerhard believed that people just need to 'be patient enough and then in five or ten or fifteen years the economic structure will be strong like the Western part'. Gerhard also argued that the state should 'create the opportunities so that the people stay because it's very important to develop the economy in the region'. Klaus, on the other hand, argued that a dual-sided approach is needed, so 'at least the formal qualifications are there, and, in addition, the employers don't have such high expectations about how the workers should be'. Claudia believed you could reduce unemployment using smaller scale strategies, such as 'looking at what people can do and what they want to do; that they don't force people into it'.

All of the opinions given would not change the level of unemployment for a long time, and would essentially leave the current unemployed people with no hope of change, condemning them to many further years of unemployment before they can be documented as 'retired'. Claudia suggested that ABM is a good way of getting people into work, and this could be used for those unemployed people waiting until retirement or a further change in the system. However, it should be argued that this is just fictitious employment and would bring years of instability and cause further negative social implications. Whether it is better to remain unemployed or enter the unsure ABM labour market is something only unemployed people themselves could answer.



The majority of interviewees surveyed for the purposes of this paper believe that GDR legacies are the main reason for unemployment in Leipzig. However, a smaller number of interviewees thought that the policies that have been introduced post-unification are a greater cause for the high levels of long-term unemployment, rather than the legacies from the GDR. It is worth noting that some inhabitants do disagree with some of the reasons given in the literature for the high unemployment, especially the work of Snower and Merkl (2006) which suggests that West Germany's 'caring hand' is the cause of the high unemployment.

Different reasons are given by academics to try to explain the persistent unemployment in the former GDR, but, as nearly half the interviewees in this study stressed, if there are not any permanent jobs then people can not be employed. This, in turn, can be linked to the second reason that interviewees gave for high unemployment, which was that the negative aspects from the unification of the GDR into West Germany are the main cause, with this socio-economic instability being causal to a lack of jobs. This study has therefore contributed to existing literature on unemployment in the former GDR, with interviewees highlighting some reasons for long-term unemployment that current literature recognises. It has also found new evidence for long-term unemployment, in what can be termed 'generational unemployment'. It has also highlighted the importance of the 'third labour market' to those who are long-term unemployed, something that is not acknowledged in other studies. One could argue, however, that this research would have benefitted from extra interviews with major employers in the city, such as Amazon and DHL. This would give the analysis a fully-rounded viewpoint. Unfortunately, however, these employers were unwilling to be interviewed.

This research has suggested that legacies of the GDR are a strong cause for unemployment in Leipzig, although in most cases there is not a direct link; just because a person was of working age in the GDR does not mean they will be unemployed now. It is more likely to be the case that these legacies have caused a lack of jobs, especially for those who were educated and trained during the GDR years. This therefore suggests that time itself will reduce unemployment in Leipzig, as the economy will gradually stabilise over the long term, creating more jobs as it does. In the next ten or fifteen years, unemployment will also drop as those who were affected most by unification retire. This does not mean, however, that one should just wait for these people to disappear into a different employment bracket in the statistics.

The interviewees suggested that reducing unemployment can only realistically be achieved by improving and stabilising the economy of Leipzig. This could be achieved faster by enticing university graduates to stay and work in their city, thereby keeping young talent and ideas where they were trained. Reducing the tax on businesses, which is larger in Leipzig than any other city in Saxony, could do no damage to the local economy and quite possibly create many jobs too.

The problem of generational unemployment in relation to communist legacies is a pressing concern. This should be explored in further research, as arguably it will be this, rather than legacies from the GDR, which will cause persistently high levels of long-term unemployment in the future. Arguably a way to avoid this would be to ensure every child leaves school with some sort of formal qualifications. Social workers could also have a part to play, making sure that the family environment is as stable as possible and that children are attending school or gaining work experience.




First and foremost I would like to thank Dr Stefan Bouzarovski (University of Birmingham) for all the advice, comments and support that he has given me on countless occasions. I would also like to thank my parents and Anthony Greenhalgh for comments on draft copies, and University of Birmingham 'Kinvig geography award' for the financial assistance that it provided.

In Leipzig I would first like to thank the Department of Urban and Environmental Sociology at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, and in particular Dr Annett Steinfuehrer, for providing me with possible interviewees and a place to work. Immense gratitude also goes to Tonja Lehmann and Markus Doering for all their time given to me in translating during interviews and general logistics. Last, but not least, I would like to thank the interviewees for their time and openness, and to whom this research is dedicated.



Appendix A: sample interview questions for unemployed person
  • Tell me about yourself, such as your employment history?
  • What jobs did you do before unification and how was the work environment different?
  • What are the main obstacles that you have encountered which have stopped you from working?
  • Do you believe the non-profit sector, such as church and charity work, helps in acquiring influence to increase your chances of getting work?
  • Do you believe the "secondary labour market" such as labour and welfare programs has helped you to get back into employment?
  • Have you personally seen a decrease in unemployment over the last year, especially amongst the long-term unemployed, as shown in official statistics?
  • Do you believe that schemes such as the ABM have been a success?
  • In your opinion, should old industrial sites be converted for different uses, such as tourism, to create new employment?
  • Have you ever felt cut off from society as a result of unemployment, or had trouble in social situations as a consequence of unemployment?
  • What is the impression you get of the public opinion of unemployment in Leipzig?
  • What do you think should be done to help the unemployed get back into employment?
  • Do you believe that the Agentur fur Arbeit and Leipzig city officials are doing enough for the unemployed people in Leipzig?
  • Do you think that a reason why unemployment is high amongst women is that companies are not helping enough in providing childcare facilities?
  • Do you think that having an open, capitalist market has caused unemployment problems in Leipzig?
  • What are your opinions on the closure of DDR firms after unification of Germany?
  • What do you believe should be the state's role in creating employment?
  • An employee of the Agentur fur Arbeit said that in some cases people are qualified enough to get jobs, but would rather stay unemployed. Have you ever found that this is the case?
  • Finally, why do you believe unemployment is so high in Leipzig?
Appendix B: List of interviewees

In order for the interviewees to remain anonymous, random German names (indicative of interviewee's sex) were assigned to identify them:Angela - Employment consultant

  • Bernadette - Chairman of private quarter development project
  • Claudia - Long-term unemployed person
  • Dietrich - Head of public quarter development office
  • Erich - Long-term unemployed person
  • Frank - Head of a secondary labour market office
  • Gerhard - Leipzig business development officer
  • Hans - Church organiser
  • Imre - Long-term unemployed person
  • Jens - Long-term unemployed person
  • Klaus - Chairman of Agentur für Arbeit (state employment agency)


[1] David Hunn studied for a BA in Geography at the University of Birmingham and is currently working for a business intelligence unit in Chichester.


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To cite this paper please use the following details: Hunn, D. (2009), 'The Relationship Between Unemployment and Communist-era Legacies in Leipzig, Germany: a Survey of Local Inhabitants', Reinvention: a Journal of Undergraduate Research, Volume 2, Issue 2, Date accessed [insert date]. If you cite this article or use it in any teaching or other related activities please let us know by e-mailing us at