Education As a Key to Tackle Inequalities in Shrinking Cities. Examples from East Germany

Monday, July 14, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: 311+312
Oral Presentation
Anja NELLE , Urban Regeneration, Leibniz Inst Regional Development, Erkner, Germany
In East Germany political and economic transformation after 1990 led to demographic change, massive loss of jobs and high levels of out-migration. Just like in many shrinking cities all over the world (see Mallach/Brachman 2013 for US or Fol 2012 for France) outmigration was selective: predominantly talented and skilled people left for better prospects, less qualified and less mobile parts of the population remained. The same migration pattern can be observed on a micro-level. The most fragile parts of the population with lowest educational background are left behind in the least attractive neighbourhoods.

In Germany this poses a problem for the future because statistics show that poorly educated parents tend to have poorly qualified children. Bontje and Musterd (2012) have pointed out, that if there is a shortage of well qualified people in a shrinking city, it becomes less attractive for companies and investors, which may cause more people to leave.

Some cities in Germany have realised that a shrinking society cannot afford a poorly qualified younger generation that is unable to keep or attract businesses and pay the pensions of an aging population. Theses shrinking cities regard investment in education as a key to survival and a key to tackle inequalities. The city Bernburg shall be presented to show how the challenge can be met. In 2005 it had 50% less children than in 1990. 20% of them did not complete school. In consequence Bernburg thoroughly reformed the educational landscape and developed new schooling concepts. Approaches from other German cities that focus on identity building and link education strategies to urban regeneration, may be presented to complete the picture.

Could it be a positive effect of shrinkage, that more emphasis is put on a just educational system? This argument shall be put forward for discussion.