Flashcards in The GDR: The Social Contract, Pensions, Housing, Social Welfare, and Education Deck (54):
How did the SED attempt to provide a satisfactory standard of living?
• SED supported social and welfare programmes to provide a satisfactory standard of living.
What did social policy ensure?
Social policy was to ensure no one got left behind as society developed.
This was the difference between socialism and capitalism where groups could suffer in the face of overall developments.
How did the Honecker regime in the 1970s and 80s hope to secure support?
•Honecker regime in the 1970s to 1980s hoped to secure support through social plans.
What was the "Social Contract"?
•Honecker developed the Social Contract in which minimum standards were guaranteed in return for at least tacit support for the regime.
•This policy became known as “really existing socialism” used first in 1973.
How much GDP was spent on social welfare in the 70s?
•GDP on social welfare went from 12.7% to 16.8% from 1970 to 1979.
Does not include aspects like subsidised housing and guaranteed job security.
In 1971, how much did the state spend on subsidies?
State subsidies amounted to 8500 million Ostmarks in 1971
Why was the party committed to improving living standards?
This was based on the idea that happiness meant better labour productivity.
Which would lead to developments in science and technology.
When was Honecker's first social policy programme launched?
Honecker’s first social policy programme was launched in April 1972.
Promised that that pensions and welfare benefits would increase.
When was the minimum wage increased?
October 1976, from 350 to 400 Ostmarks
Why were pensions ignored under Ulbricht?
Because they were non-productive
What happened to pensions between 1971-1972?
An ageing population meant an increase in voluntary contributions and pensions increased by 20%
Between 1965 and 1972 how much did pensions increase by?
6.5%, old age pensions increased faster than benefits for anyone else
What happened to pensions in December 1976? What about 1979? What did this mean for the people?
• The minimum monthly pension was increased from 230 to 300 Ostmarks in December 1976 and to 327 by 1979.
This was less than 33% of the average wage. People would, therefore, remain in employment as long as possible.
Public servants had 60 to 80% of their salary. Much more generous than any other sector.
How many people benefitted from a rise in the minimum wage? What does this tell us?
1 million people, 1 in 7 workers, benefitted from the rise which demonstrates the large amount of people on comparatively low incomes.
Why was the minimum wage raised?
In an effort to produce higher productivity but there was little evidence to support this.
The government had been reluctant to call for renewed work norms following June 1953. Increased job security could with continuing problems such as inadequate equipment or poor working conditions meant people were unlikely to be more productive, they had no reason to be.
How much of the GDR's housing stock was destroyed during WW2?
As much as two thirds, housing had been a critical problem from the beginning.
How did people express their complaints about poor housing?
What was Ulbricht's policy towards housing?
To renovate existing stock wherever possible. He took a personal interest in architectural design and the development of new satellite towns but did not like "the barracks" that were the new large housing estates.
What was Honecker's policy towards housing? Was it popular?
Honecker was more concerned with quantity and the 70s saw a period of extensive building.
Yes it was popular:
o In a Leipzig survey of people’s goals in October 1984, 53% said their priority was a decent home.
o In Dresden in 1980 a survey of living standard satisfaction found that only 35% were happy in older accommodation while the figure rose to 76% of those living in newer housing.
How many families still lacked their own homes in 1986?
• By 1986 it was estimated that 7% of families still lacked their own homes and had to share with parents or others
How were rents justified as one of the big advantages of living in the GDR?
•Rents, subsidised by the state, were cheap, often no more than 4% of income.
•Rent was 38 Ostmarks a month to 400 DM per month in Hamburg in the FRG.
•Residents of Berlin paid 1.00 to 1.25 Ostmarks per square meter of living space.
BUT rents did not cover the costs of repair in many of the older buildings
Did private home owners exist in the GDR?
•Private homes comprised 10% of the housing market in the 1980s.
•They were built at the rate of 11,000 to 12,000 a year and catered mainly for the wealthier citizens.
Give examples of new industrial towns
•In the three new towns of Schwedt, Eisenhüttenstadt and Guben, 75-83% of residents worked in the massive new chemical and petrochemical factories.
•Many of the new constructions here and throughout the GDR were huge, often featureless concrete complexes with all the attendant problems of loneliness and isolation which residents experienced elsewhere in the developed world.
•Berlin-Marzahn comprised 64,000 dwelling units, Leipzig-Grunau 34,000 and Halle-Neustadt 33,000.
What happened regarding crime rates in the new towns?
•Crime rates were quite higher here than in older areas.
o Halle-Neustadt had a 20% higher crime rate.
What was the overall target for housing? Was it attained?
he overall target of 3 million new builds was not attained.
o Figures of new construction between 1971 and 1990 vary from 1.7 to 1.9 million.
In 1990 how much of the GDR's housing stock pre-dated 1919?
In 1990, 34% of the housing stock predate 1919 and much of it had not been renovated.
Household facility percentages
o By the 1980s, 44% of older homes had no hot water.
o 60% lacked a bath or shower.
o 65% had an outdoor toilet.
• In 1984 1/7 homes in Leipzig lacked any of those amenities.
In 1989 how many apartments were waiting for repairs?
By 1989, there was a waiting list of 800,000 for repairs to accommodation and a thriving black market in circumventing this.
What was healthcare based on in the GDR?
• Healthcare in the GDR was comprehensive and based on two principles:
o Communities tended to be healthy for the strength of the nation.
o Individuals needed to be healthy so they could produce more.
How was healthcare funded in the GDR?
•Largely funded through a system of National Insurance.
o Employees contributed 10% of gross income and employers and equivalent amount.
What were the overarching problems with healthcare?
• The overarching problems with healthcare were increased costs, an ageing population and greater expectations.
• While the GDR shared these with most developed nations, they may have been exacerbated by the growing economic problems and the unhealthier nature of society as compared to western countries.
How did the GDR cope with mental illness?
With most European countries in the 1970s and 1980s, care for those with mental illness was less robust than in other areas.
GDR had some grim care homes, mental institutions, many predated the Nazi period.
There was also a reluctance to address issues such as mental illness, alcoholism, suicide and domestic violence.
Did the GDR experience shortages in the healthcare sector?
The economy could not afford the quality of care it sought.
Much specialist equipment had to be imported and the state lacked the resources to pay.
It was estimated in 1988 that only 30% of the equipment needed for successful heart surgery and transplants was available in the GDR.
Even the largest hospital, Berlin-Buch, faced shortages while there were also shortfalls of different drugs and medicines throughout the GDR.
Basic items, like rubber gloves, sterile syringes could be in short supply.
GPs often complained of shortages of equipment and medicines.
How much did the political elite and those felt to be more valuable to the state justify getting better treatment?
They were expected to pay 10% more from their salaries.
What was the aim of education in the GDR?
•Education was crucial not only to give young people the necessary skills to flourish in a modern technological society but also for political indoctrination.
•The overall aim was conformity combined with initiative and channeled creativity – which always led to tension.
The state sought to do what to schools?
The state sought to control the intake of all schools.
This would be based on equality of opportunity rather than a privilege.
The Law for Democratisation of German Schools did what?
•As early as 1946, the Law for the Democratisation of German Schools had begun to remove the influence of religion and abolish privileges for the children of the wealthy.
What were secondary schools known as and when was their system completed?
•In 1959 the system of secondary schools called polytechnics was completed
.These accommodated children from the ages of 6-16 and were the basic unit of secondary education in the GDR.
Where did children go after polytechnics?
•More academic children left these in their final two years to attend “Extended Upper Schools” where they took, at the age of 18, the final leaving examination – the Abitur – which was for university entrance.
In theory, this was enough to get into uni, but you also needed a good political record through the FDJ.
•It helped if potential students belonged to politically compliant families and showed little to no religious conviction.
Why did the Stasi infiltrate universities?
As they would otherwise have been a breeding ground for dissidents.
What informal system did the GDR adopt in selecting children for Extended Upper Schools?
•The GDR also adopted an informal system whereby children would only be selected for the Extended Upper Schools according to the number of university places available.
•Some years as few as 12% of 18-year-olds received the Abitur needed for university entrance
Were there any opportunities for those who preferred vocational education?
• For the less academic, there were links with industry which offered work placements.
• Annual “Fairs of Tomorrow’s Masters”.
o Used to encourage young people into science, technology, engineering and so on.
• Children on work placements were often given real responsibility in developing new projects.
• The research discovered since German reunification found that many were shocked by poor working conditions, inefficiency and drunkenness among the workforce.
• Places were readily available and in theory, students had a plentiful choice of careers in industry.
o There were never enough places for skilled applicants and many had to undertake work beneath the level of their qualifications.
How did military training filter into the educational system?
• From September 1973, students in Years 9 and 10 had to undergo military instruction.
• Largely involved firing practice and survival techniques one afternoon per week.
• Those on vocational training were also included.
• The military also developed relationships with kindergartens coming in to talk to classes of children and show off military equipment/
What were the two fundamental problems with the educational system?
o Huge pressure for ideological conformity caused resentment among many.
o Workforce became overqualified, there simply weren’t any skilled jobs for the numbers of skilled workers.
One sociological survey in the 1970s suggested 70% of workers were skilled but there were only suitable opportunities for 55% of them.
Other data suggests 20% of workers were doing jobs for which they were overqualified.
What was the increase in the expenditure of social welfare?
•Expenditure of social welfare per head of the population rose 90% between 1971 and 1979.
o Might be impressive, but national income also rose by 46% in the same period.
What link did the SED recognise in regards to social welfare?
•There were genuine efforts done to raise living standards by using social welfare.
•SED had recognised the correlation between higher economic growth and improvements in living standards.
What was the cost of subsidising items like food, rents and transport?
•The cost of subsidising items like food, rents and transport rose from 16.9 billion Ostmarks in 1980 to 49.8 billion by 1989.
•By this time, for every 100 Ostmarks spent on food, the state was subsidising it to the tune of 89 Ostmarks.
Did GDR economists understand the problem of subsidising everything?
Economists understood the problem early on: in 1972, the president of the State Bank had worried that this level of subsidy would make the external debt problem worse.
•Honecker accused people of sabotage when officials raised the issue with him.
The government spent on social welfare at the expense of what?
•The government spent on social welfare at the expense of investment.
In the 1970s, public investment accounted for 24.4% of national income.
By 1979 this had fallen to 20.1% – the lowest in the Soviet bloc.
Why was the extremity of expenditure on social welfare a problem?
•This meant that the government simply lacked the money for investment into the economy.
This was significant in the 1970s but would become even more critical in the following decade.
How long did people have to wait for a car? A telephone?
•People could wait 12-17 years for the delivery of a new car.
Up to 13 to be connected to a telephone.
How long did shoppers queue for?
•Shoppers often queued for up to 4 hours a day and choices were very limited.
What did the policy of social welfare lead to?
•The policy of social welfare led to shortages.
•Essential minimum standards were prioritised and items considered luxuries had to wait.