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Did the fall of the Berlin Wall create a generation of criminals?

Posted on 08/04/2013

Research has found that the collapse of Germany’s Communist regime resulted to at least a 50% increase in criminal activity by children who were born to parents in former East Germany compared to those born in the West. The research states that those children born between 1991 and 1993 were far more likely to be arrested by the police.

Researchers Arnaud Chevalier of Royal Holloway, University of London and Olivier Marie, of the University of Maastricht found that the sudden collapse of the Communist regime led to an uncertainty about starting families and thus there was a 40 percent decline in the birthrate which continued to fall until 1994. The study finds that the decline in the birth rate and increase in criminality were down to;

  • Mothers being young, less educated and more likely to be unmarried and less likely to have good parenting skills
  • Uncertainty in regards to how much it would cost to raise a family
  • High rates of unemployment after the collapse of the wall in East Germany with many fleeing to the West.
  • No more free childcare for children above the age of one and one year maternity leave on full pay as was the case under Communism
  • Parents who decided to have children at the time of great economic uncertainties may have been worse parents who did not develop the appropriate emotional connection with their children.

The study also looked extensively at school performance of the children of the East and West but found no significant differences when it came to the rate of children dropping out or repeating grades.

The research, which was presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference. It has also received coverage in national newspapers.


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