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last updated: October 5, 2005

Berlin


One decade after unification, Berlin is overcoming half a century of a divided social, economical and spatial development and at the same time is facing increasing polarization. The new governmental functions, an emerging service and media as well as a strong science sector provides high quality and high income jobs while on the other side of the spectrum, the loss of half a million industrial and simple administrational jobs has led to persistently high unemployment and dependency on social benefits by many.

As many of the growth expectations of the 1990s have not materialised, the regional housing boom has produced a drastic surplus in dwellings which is increasingly leading to hitherto unknown forms of spatial segregation in the formerly highly districts. As over 120,000 dwellings are vacant, the more affluent groups can decide for new homes either in the refurbished inner-city or in suburbia leading to a homogenisation of poorer, older and the non-German population in disadvantaged areas.

Besides some old 'working class' quarters, among these disadvantaged areas are the large housing estates which in the West are the homes to some 20 per cent and in the East still house over half of the population. Especially many of the formerly 'privileged' eastern panel estates are rapidly losing acclaim despite of heavy investment in rehabilitation.