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Franz-Josef Kemper (2008)

Residential Mobility in East and West Germany: Mobility Rates, Mobility Reasons, Reurbanization*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 33, 3-4/2008, p. 293-314, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398, DOI: 10.1007/s12523-009-0018-1

Abstract: Before unification, the processes of residential mobility in East and West Germany were very different, and remarkable variations in mobility still persisted until the mid 1990s. Following a wave of residential suburbanization and of heavy residential construction, as well as refurbishments in the new Länder during the second half of the 1990s, mobility rates strongly increased in East Germany. After 2000, both parts of the united country seem to be characterized by a new process of regional redistribution of the population in favour of core cities leading to reurbanization. Therefore, it could be expected that there was an adjustment of mobility processes in the East in line with corresponding Western processes, and that former East-West differences are no longer relevant. This first general hypothesis is investigated for indicators of mobility rates, reasons for mobility and the attractiveness of urban forms of housing and neighbourhoods. A second hypothesis refers to path dependencies in recent mobility processes. Some differences in residential mobility can still be expected to result from past and current differences in housing stock and housing construction. These research questions are tested using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). The results show that former differences in mobility rates disappeared during the late 1990s, and that it was possible to observe tendencies towards convergence for motivational structures. Similar results were obtained for a recent trend of reurbanization because a shift towards more urban forms of housing and neighbourhoods can be observed in both East and West Germany. Nevertheless, even if the average patterns are similar, regional and socio-economic disparities seem to be wider in East Germany. Mobility rates according to settlement structure are therefore much more pronounced, and the influence of income on residential mobility, is higher in the new Länder.

* peer-reviewed article

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