Changes after 1989

East German cities have changed dramatically after 1989. There has been shrinkage accompanied by massive investment in urban modernisation: deindustrialisation, urban sprawl, and demographic change are the main causes of the declining population and huge vacancies in central urban areas.




Since the early 1950s, the population of Saxony-Anhalt has continued to decline. German reunification in 1989 strengthened this trend slightly and drastically accelerated it only for a short period. Since 1989, the state lost about 17 percent of its population. The long-term prognosis is that in 2040 Saxony-Anhalt will have only half the population it had in 1950.

Superannuation of the population



Because the younger members of the population continue to move away, the birth rate is sinking and it will continue to do so in the future. At the same time, life expectancy is increasing, which is essentially good news. However, this changes the ratio of labour force to retirees. This effect is to be diluted by gradually raising the retirement age. According to prognoses, by 2025 every third person in Saxony-Anhalt will be a pensioner.

Job Market



The large-scale industries of the GDR were outdated, and even if modernisation were economically viable, far fewer employees would be required. Most jobs were lost and of the densely networked industrial regions, only isolated industrial "islands" remained. As the large combined industries failed, so too did their social institutions, which had to be taken over by the local authorities. The structural transformation hit the generally mono-industrial structures of the smaller cities in Saxony-Anhalt particularly hard. Their decline was often associated with a loss of an important factor of identification. Job shortages and a lack of perspectives increased migration. At the same time, birth rates dropped and life expectancy rose so that by 2025 around a third of the population of Saxony-Anhalt will be of retirement age. Businesses have increasing difficulties finding skilled workers or apprentices. 

Vacant housing

IBA Cities

The IBA towns and cities have struggled with rising housing vacancy rates since 1990. In order to counteract this, the Urban Restructuring in East Germany programme oversaw the extensive demolition of vacant housing from 2001/02. The declin- ing demand for housing is expected to continue into the future, with a corre- spondingly high demand for demolition.

Relocating and Commuting

IBA Cities

Screenshot "Relocating and Commuting"

In the 1990s, suburbanisation affected all the IBA cities. At the same time, people, especially those from the former industrial centres, began to move to West Germany. The populations of the large cities of Halle (Saale) and Magdeburg have increased minimally in recent times, mainly due to migration from Saxony-Anhalt. In the meantime, the improved transportation network allows for longer journeys to and from work and the number of commuters is climbing.

The interactive tool "Relocating and commuting" visualises this range of topics for all IBA cities.

Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde (IfL), Leipzig 2010
Data: Günter Herfert, design/programming: Sebastian Specht


1989: 2.965.000
2009: 2.367.600
2025: 1.939.300 (Prognose)

Active Population
1987: 1.577.400
2009: 1.009.700

General-Education Schools
1991: 3030
2008: 970

Care Homes
1991: 200
2008: 410

Housing stock: 1.310.900
Vacant housing (2008): 15,5 %