Germany in Transition: A Unified Nation's Search for Identity

Germany in Transition: A Unified Nation's Search for Identity

Germany in Transition: A Unified Nation's Search for Identity

Germany in Transition: A Unified Nation's Search for Identity

Synopsis

These contributions discussing the future for a unified Germany cover: foreign and European affairs; economic and business issues and Eastern Germany; and minority rights in Germany.

Excerpt

In recent years, Germany, along with many other countries, has faced social and technological developments that have caused great changes in the domestic economy, which in turn has experienced changes that have caused considerable social disruption. In addition, technological advances and international trade agreements have led to a rapid growth of international trade, which has increased competition in many sectors of the economy. This competition has been intensified by the emergence of developing countries in Asia and Latin America, joined recently by east European countries. In an effort to reduce barriers to investment and trade and to promote efficiency, the European Union has adopted measures intended to open state-owned and -operated monopolies to international competition.

Both opportunities and challenges have been created. Many of the changes taking place promise increased economic productivity and thus economic growth and improved living standards. Many businesses and individuals now enjoy unprecedented opportunities. At the same time, many industries and businesses face greater competitive pressures to reduce costs and increase efficiency, leading to pressure on many individuals to accept reduced compensation and altered working conditions as well as causing a sense of loss of economic security.

While these developments have affected all industrialized countries in varying degrees, they have had an unusually strong impact in Germany because they have occurred simultaneously with the economic difficulties caused by the unification of East and West Germany. Unification has led to sizable and persistent budget deficits despite an increase in taxes and cuts in government spending; unification, together with underlying economic causes, has resulted in record levels of unemployment.

The result of these developments has been a growing debate on reform in Germany. The "Standort" (literally, location) debate revolves around . . .

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