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Ageing in rural areas of East and West Germany: increasing similarities and remaining differences.


ABSTRACT: Since unification in 1990, living conditions in Germany's "New Länder" have slowly converged to the conditions in the "Old Länder". One can assume, however, that West-East differences persist more strongly in remote rural areas neglected by economic development. Therefore, this paper aims to investigate and compare the living conditions of older adults in rural areas in East and West Germany with respect to personal and environmental resources which are important preconditions for autonomy and well-being in old age. These conditions were examined in a survey conducted in urban and rural regions of five European countries in 2000. The German rural study was carried out in the districts of Jerichow (Saxony-Anhalt) and Vogelsberg (Hesse), and included 762 men and women aged 55 years or older, randomly chosen in villages of at most 5,000 inhabitants. East-West comparison showed both similarities and differences. Similarities arose in human conditions such as subjective health, parenthood and network variety, and in environmental conditions such as home-ownership, attachment to one's home, length of residence in the same neighbourhood, and satisfaction with mobility options. Differences were found in socio-demographic conditions (e.g. education, income, household composition), basic neighbourhood features, and patterns of social and leisure activities. Regression analysis showed the differing impact of single predictor variables on life satisfaction in the East and West: satisfaction with financial situation and functional health contributes far more to older people's life satisfaction in the West German rural area, whereas mobility-related aspects affect elders' life satisfaction more strongly in the East German countryside. The findings reflect, on the one hand, continuing structural East-West differences and, on the other, diverging socio-cultural habits.

SUBMITTER: Mollenkopf H 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5547681 | BioStudies | 2005-01-01

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): 10.1007/s10433-005-0029-2

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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