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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany

Population Structure and Dynamics

Population structure and dynamics in East Germany have been seriously affected by historical and political developments. The birthrate increased from 16.5 live births per 1,000 population in 1950 to 17 in 1970 but thereafter declined steadily to 10.8 in 1975. After a slight upward trend in the late 1970s, this downward trend continued in the 1980s. In 1980 the birthrate was 14.6 per 1,000; by 1985 the birthrate had fallen to 13.7 per 1,000. In 1986 the East German regime took some measures to stimulate the birthrate. The state granted working mothers a paid "baby year": a paid leave of absence until the child was one year old immediately following a twenty-six-week leave for pregnancy and maternity. The state also granted all working mothers with two or more children a paid absence of up to six weeks per year so that they could take care of sick children.

Marriage rates have fluctuated over the years but, like birthrates, generally declined after reaching a peak of 11.7 marriages per 1,000 population in 1950. The number of marriages reflected changes in the sex ratio and the small proportion of the population that fell in the marriageable age bracket. Since the 1970s, women have tended to marry at a younger age; the marriage rate in 1985 was 7.9 per 1,000, slightly higher than in the 1960s. Divorce was common. In 1985, with 3.1 divorces per 1,000 population, East Germany had one of the highest divorce rates in the world (see table 2, Appendix A).

The death rate in East Germany has been high for Europe, although the high rate has resulted primarily from an unfavorable age structure. In fact, infant mortality rates dropped dramatically, going from 48.9 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1955 to 10 in 1984. Similarly, the life span of the population increased in 1985 and stood at seventy-five years for women and sixty-nine years for men. Death rates increased from 11.9 deaths per 1,000 population in 1950, to 13.6 in 1960, and to 14.1 in 1970. By 1985 the death rate had declined to 13.5 per 1,000 population.

Historical trends and population dynamics have interacted to produce a lopsided sex and age structure. Since the war, the country has had a large dependent population. In 1985 approximately 18 percent of the population was of pensionable age (men sixty-five years and over and women sixty years and over). This number was a marked increase from the 14 percent that fell into such a category in 1950. At the same time, the declining birthrate affected the proportion of the population under the age of fifteen. As a result of the slight increase in the birthrate in the late 1970s, the proportion of the population under the age of fifteen stood at 19 percent, which exceeded the proportion of the pensionable age-group by 1 percent. The economically active population was about 63 percent.

Data as of July 1987