Almost 30 years after reunification, people in eastern Germany receive less salary than people in West Germany. The differences are high even with the same qualifications and jobs: on average, employees receive 16.9 percent less wages in the East than their colleagues in West German states. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung close to the union, for which a research team from the Institute of Economic and Social Sciences of the Foundation (WSI) had evaluated around 175,000 data records of employees. The data came from the Lohnspiegel, a database of the WSO tariff archive, which has been maintained since 2004 and which continuously feeds data on the working and income conditions of employees.

Because the East-West comparison only considers salaries of people doing comparable work, this value is the adjusted wage gap. It is thus significantly higher than that between men and women. Although the so-called gender pay gap is unadjusted at 21 percent, if explanatory factors such as part-time work or lower-paid occupations are omitted, only six percent of the difference remains difficult to explain.

However, the almost 17 percent wage difference between East and West German employees can be explained to a large extent: in the East, far fewer companies are collectively bound - according to the Nuremberg Institute for Employment Research (IAB), there were 2018, 45 percent of companies in the West but 56 percent. In addition, even many industry tariffs provide for exemptions for employees in the East. They get less money than their West German counterparts. Moreover, only a few large corporations are based in East Germany, but above all small and medium-sized companies, which often pay lower wages. In addition, above-average numbers of people in the East work in low-paid jobs.

At the same time, there are fewer jobs for the high paid in the East: Many highly innovative companies that pay skilled workers above average continue to have their research and development departments in the West. More economic promotion would actually be needed here, but the East is still regarded as an unattractive location for many companies. Also because specialized professionals are harder to find here. Only recently, a study showed that, for example, many graduates leave the new federal states and do not want to start their careers there. And many from the West have a hard time relocating their center of life to East Germany. Although the WSI study shows that academics have to accept a slightly lower pay gap in the East - the salary gap is slightly smaller at 15.4 percent, but the general situation on the labor market is just as good for highly educated people as it is for them do not have to put up with it.

Additional qualification often brings no salary increase

But for professionals too, higher qualifications do not necessarily mean a financial improvement. The opposite seems more likely to be the case. Anyone who earns another qualification after completing a vocational training course in an East German company, such as a commercial apprenticeship or technical training, will not benefit from the WSI data. In this group of employees, the pay gap is even 18.4 percent compared to the West. How can this be explained? In the West employers are more willing to reward a supplementary qualification financially - rather not in the East.

The results of the WSI study correspond to those of a request recently submitted by the Left Party to the Federal and State Statistical Offices. According to employees 2018 received in the West 36,088 euros as gross annual salary, East German but only 31,242 euros.