Wage inequality between eastern and western German states continues to grow

Wage inequality between eastern and western German states continues to grow

More than 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, wage discrepancy between workers in former East and West Germany is not only present, it is growing. The German Left Party is claiming that wage inequality is an obvious explanation for the rise of populist politics in new states in the East.

Workers in eastern Germany still earn less

Figures released annually by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) have revealed that the difference in wages between workers in former West Germany and the so-called “new states” of the former East, is greater than in 2022. 

In 2021, workers in the Neue Bundesländer earned an average of 13.000 euros a year less than their western German counterparts. In the west, the annual gross salary of full-time employees was an average of 58.085 euros compared to 45.070 euros in the new states. Statisticians believe that the main reason for the inequality is that workers in western German states are more likely to receive big bonuses at work.

Statistics from 2021 determined that workers in the former East made an average gross annual income of 12.173 less. This was also a jump from 2020 when the difference was a figure of 11.967 euros each year.

German Left Party call post-Wende wage inequality a scandal

According to the Destatis figures, even though there were large differences between how much workers earned across the eastern German states, not a single new state matched the average wages of federal states in the west - those in Hamburg earn an average of 21.000 euros more annually compared to workers in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Responding to the newly released figures, the German Left Party called the inequality a “political scandal against East Germans” and argued that there was a connection to be drawn between economic inequality within Germany and the rise of right-wing parties in the former East.

“If full-time workers in eastern Germany earn an average of 13.000 euros less a year compared to their colleagues in western Germany, no politicians should be surprised at wins for the AfD,” Left representative Sören Pellmann told RND.

Germany’s SPD-FDP-Green coalition has recently come under fire and been accused of ignoring voters’ concerns after the populist AfD made significant advances in the polls and won their first council election in the country.

Thumb image credit: John Kehly /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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