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Germany's Ossies Are Catching Up Fast


In per capita output, exports, productivity, and entrepreneurial startups, the former East Germans are gaining on their Wessie countrymen

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the former East Germany is growing faster than the rest of the country by several key measures—and seems to be weathering the economic crisis better. East Germans are still poorer than their Western counterparts, says the government's latest unification status report. But their region has grown faster, with per-capita output at 71% of Western Germany's level, up from 67% in 2000. East Germans are also neck and neck with the "Wessies" in the percentage of residents starting their own companies. And amid the global economic crisis, East German companies—smaller, nimbler, and focused on such growth industries as solar energy—have registered less severe sales declines than West German businesses. West Germany, dominated by such multinationals as carmaker Daimler (DAI), has been slammed by plummeting exports.

Ewing is BusinessWeek's European regional editor.

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