Is there a life after coal? Economic development in East German mining regions

The end of brown coal mining by 2038 is a big challenge for some less favoured regions in Germany, and in East Germany in particular. A large share of jobs and income in the Lausitz region along the Polish-German border depend on brown coal mining and local power stations. Well-paid jobs outside the mining sector are rare and the region still suffers from large-scale deindustrialisation after 1990. 6 out of 10 East German industrial jobs disappeared in the course of reunification, millions of East Germans left their home for the West. Mining cities such as WeiĂźwasser or Hoyerswerda lost more than half of the population within 30 years.

Many East German regions therefore worry about their future after the coal. The federal government aims at compensating those regions with billions of Euros. But how should we allocate the money? Which kind of state interventions can help? Economic research has shown that place-based policies had only limited sustainable effects in the past. For example, a lot of money was spend in the Ruhr and Saar regions when coal mining came to an end in the 1970s, but with little impact on innovation and new industrial jobs. Are there examples of successful state-driven transformations in Germany or Europe? Which measures can deliver on a sustainable economic development? And are there any conclusions for the Lausitz region? This is your challenge: Is there a life after coal?

What are the impacts of reunification on East German mining regions?
How much does the Lausitz region still depend on coal mining today?
Can state interventions contribute to sustainable economic development?
Are there any blueprints for successful structural change in Germany or Europe?
What do we learn from the history of the Ruhr area and Saarland?

Ă–konomische Forschung
1. Neumark, D. und H. Simpson (2015): Place-Based Policies, in: Duranton, G., Henderson, J. und W. Strange, Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Vol. 5, Elsevier, Oxford, Amsterdam, S. 1197–1287, online abrufbar:
2. Wirtschaftsdienst, 99. Jahrgang, Sonderheft 2019, Artikel online abrufbar:
3. Pflüger, M. (2019), Regionale Disparitäten und Regionalpolitik: Treiber der Veränderung, Hand-lungsbedarf und Handlungsoptionen, IZA Standpunkte Nr. 92, online abrufbar:

Regionalökonomische Analysen
1. Prognos AG (2011): Bedeutung der Braunkohle in Ostdeutschland, Gutachten im Auftrag der Vattenfall Europe AG in Zusammenarbeit mit MIBRAG mbH, Zeitz, Berlin, online abrufbar:
2. Kluge, J., Lehmann, R., Ragnitz, J. and F. Rösel (2014): Industrie- und Wirtschaftsregion Lausitz: Bestandsaufnahme und Perspektiven, Gutachten im Auftrag der Wirtschaftsinitative Lausitz e.V., ifo Dresden Studien 71, Dresden, online abrufbar:
3. Markwardt, G., MiĂźler-Behr, M., Schuster, H., Zundel, S. und J. Hedderoth (2016): Strukturwandel in der Lausitz. Wissenschaftliche Auswertung der Potentialanalysen der Wirtschaft der Lausitz ab 2010, online abrufbar:
4. Seibert, H., Weyh, A., Jost, O., Sujata, U. Wiethölter, D. und J. Carstensen (2018): Die Lausitz. Eine Region im Wandel, IAB-Regional 3/2018, Nürnberg, online abrufbar:

Scientific Partner

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Photo: (c) ifo Institut

Dr. Felix Rösel is a post-doc researcher at the Dresden branch of the ifo Institute. He investigates the rise of right-wing populism in Europe and the impacts of the demographic and economic transition in East Germany.

YES! topics by Felix Rösel

Photo: (c) ifo Institut

Prof. Dr Marcel Thum is a Professor at TU Dresden and the Director of the Dresden branch of the ifo Institute. His research focus on public finance, social care, demography, political economy and economic development.

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