While Germany's metropolitan regions are booming, many other areas are threatening to lose touch. In 19 of a total of 96 regions, there is an "urgent need for action", according to a study published by the Institute of German Industry (IW). Eleven are in eastern Germany, four regions in North Rhine-Westphalia along the Ruhr. In addition there are Bremerhaven, the Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein East and the West Palatinate.
Economic development is particularly weak in the West - especially in Duisburg / Essen, Emscher-Lippe and Bremerhaven. These regions are characterized by high unemployment, low productivity and a high level of household debt.
In East Germany the study authors see the problems before all in the demography justified. In the regions of Anhalt-Bitterfeld-Wittenberg, Lausitz-Spreewald, Upper Lusatia-Lower Silesia, as well as Eastern and Southern Thuringia, there is a high average age of the population, which has also increased disproportionately in recent years.
The study sees infrastructure-related problems throughout Germany: the three West German regions of Emscher-Lippe, Trier and West Palatinate are therefore plagued by particularly high debt ratios, meaning that they have only limited scope for action. In the East German regions of Altmark, Magdeburg and Halle / Saale, the digital infrastructure is still underdeveloped.
For the study, the IW assessed the areas according to measurable indicators such as the unemployment rate, purchasing power, the average age of the population, the birth rate, the debt or broadband coverage.
"The affected countries should consider debt relief for the municipalities, so that they can act again," said IW chief Michael Hüther. "A smart regional policy should give the communities the opportunity to help themselves," added study author Jens Südekum of the University of Dusseldorf. The scientists also see more levers in promoting better civic engagement, improving educational opportunities and expanding the network, both in rail and in broadband Internet. Regional policy must now urgently counteract, otherwise the social tensions would increase, the researchers warned.