Rich in the old building, poor on the plate – in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the wallet determines the neighborhood. Those who can afford it live in renovated urban centers, those who make ends meet every month or receive social benefits often live on the outskirts of cities: in the cheaper “Platte”. Each social class is kept to itself. Some more, some less voluntarily. A phenomenon of the cities of eastern Germany and therefore also of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Segregation – an unfamiliar term with many familiar faces
Scientists speak of “segregation”, the “separation” of people in a city. Sad leaders in Germany: Schwerin, Rostock and Neubrandenburg. The social scientist and university lecturer Professor Marcel Helbig of the University of Erfurt sees the reason for this phenomenon of segregation mainly in the rents: “Segregation is […] the result of supply and demand. […] The wider the rental market in the end and the more unequal the incomes in a city, the more likely segregation is to occur. “
Particularly large social imbalance in Schwerin
Together with other scientists, Helbig calculated in 2019 what percentage of Hartz IV recipients should move to the largest cities in our country so that all social classes live evenly throughout the city. The so-called “segregation index”. The result: Rostock and Greifswald were around 40 percent, or 40 percent of unemployment benefit II recipients would have to move to a richer part of the city in order to restore the social balance of both cities.
With an index of 45, Schwerin leads the list of sad record holders. This places the state capital well above the national average of around 25. Only the Hanseatic cities of Wismar and Stralsund are at this level. But even here social scientists observe the tendency to “segregation”.
The reasons lie in the past – and in the present
Before reunification, teachers, masons, cleaners and shipyard workers lived side by side. Especially in the new prefabricated housing estates on the outskirts of cities. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the GDR, many residents have moved to the “West”. Those who stayed often dreamed of owning their own home in the countryside, or in the “belt belt” of cities or an old renovated building in a city location.
Districts such as Rostock-Groß Klein or Mueßer Holz on Schwerin’s Großer Dreesch have struggled with vacancies. New tenants have been found among the many ALG II beneficiaries, because state employment centers rely on the cheapest rents in the city.
A vicious circle that is difficult to break
Not only are rents lower in the “Platte”, but also educational opportunities, according to Erfurt social scientist Professor Marcel Helbig. There is only one school with a primary school section on the Großer Dreesch in Schwerin. A private school. In Rostock there are at least three (out of a total of eleven). According to Helbig, the gap between poor and affluent residential areas can only be narrowed through more social housing construction (eg building in empty spaces in the city center) and more attractive living spaces in prefab buildings.
In the new episode of the NDR Dorf Stadt Kreis podcast, presenter Mirja Freye and Schwerin journalist Sebastian Giebel talk about the gap between rich and poor, why the richest in eastern German cities are living less and less alongside social security beneficiaries. or to low incomes and if this development is still happening it stops.