How was education in the 1980s

Germany in the 70s / 80s

The society of the Federal Republic is in a state of upheaval: Germany has de facto become a country of immigration - the term itself remains taboo for a long time. The educational expansion reaches its peak, the women's movement begins to establish itself and a general change in values ​​- keywords "risk society" or "adventure society" takes place.

In 1974 women demonstrated in Frankfurt against Paragraph 218 and for the right to abortion. (& copy picture-alliance / AP)


The population of the Federal Republic rose in the seventies and eighties from 61 to 62.7 million (1989) and thus far less strongly than in the first decades of its existence. The decline in the birth rate, commented on with concern by the public (1970: 13.4 live births per 1000 inhabitants; 1985: 9.6; 1989: 11.0) and the simultaneous increase in life expectancy (1970: 67.4 for men, 73 for women, 8 years; 1991: 73.1 and 79.5 respectively) caused society to age as a whole. As early as the mid-1970s, demographers calculated that for the complete replacement of the parents' generation they would have to produce 2.2 children, while it was actually only 1.4.

In 1970 almost a third of the population was younger than 20 years of age, this proportion was only a fifth in the mid-1990s. In addition, fewer and fewer people worked up to the age of 65. In 1970 it was almost half of all blue-collar and white-collar workers, a decade later this was only the case for one in six.

The Federal Republic had become a de facto immigration country in the course of the sixties and early seventies - especially as a result of the labor immigration of "guest workers" from southern and southeastern Europe - the term itself remained politically taboo for a long time. The number of foreign workers increased twenty-fold during this period to 2.6 million (1973), with Turkish nationals making up the largest group since then. By the beginning of the seventies at the latest, it became clear that the "guest workers" had become a permanent part of the population of the Federal Republic of Germany after their families had moved there.

Every sixth newly born child in 1974 had foreign parents and from 1970 to 1980 the number of foreign citizens rose sharply from 3 to 4.5 million (= 7.2 percent of the total resident population). In the 1980s the number of foreigners only increased slowly. In 1989 it was 4.8 million (= 7.7 percent). Attempts during the time of Kohl's chancellorship to financially support the return of foreign citizens were given up in the early 1990s. Most of the foreign people, who are largely in their second and third generation, were and are not only economically irreplaceable, but also brought about a social and cultural opening of the national horizon - this marked a considerable and lasting difference to the GDR.

However, the relationship between the West German population and foreign citizens was by no means harmonious. According to a study by the Institute for Applied Social Science (infas), 39 percent of the representative interviewees at the end of 1981 believed that the Turks would take their jobs away from the Germans. Latent or open xenophobia was particularly evident among people with a low social status and level of education, especially among young men. In contrast to the sixties and seventies, xenophobia in the eighties no longer applied exclusively to guest workers, but increasingly to the group of asylum seekers. This group doubled in 1980 compared to the previous year to around 100,000. Since - in addition to a larger proportion of Kurdish refugees from Turkey - there were also a large number of people from Africa among the asylum seekers, more openly racist tones were now mixed into the xenophobia. The dispute over the regulation of asylum law then escalated in the 1990s.

Social structure

The development towards the "post-industrial", that is, no longer from the industrial but from the "tertiary" or service sector, which began in the sixties, continued to advance in the seventies and eighties: the first time was in the mid-seventies (1975) At 47.9 percent, a higher share of all employed persons in the so-called tertiary or service sector than in the manufacturing sector, i.e. in industry and crafts, at 45.3 percent. Since then, the gap has widened even further (in 1989 the ratio was 55 to 41 percent), while the proportion of those employed in agriculture and forestry halved from 1970 to 1988 to 4.2 percent. This structural change in the national economy was also expressed in the fact that since the mid-1970s the proportion of employees and civil servants has exceeded that of blue-collar workers and that at the same time the level of education and qualification structure have continued to rise. The proportion of "unskilled" workers fell from 41 percent (1970) to 23 percent (1989).

The development towards a post-industrial society was also evident in the progressive dissolution of traditional milieus. On the political level, this meant that the social democracy, faced with a declining proportion of industrial workers and the traditional electorate, was faced with problems, as did the CDU / CSU, which was confronted with a decline in the agricultural population and the traditional bourgeois milieu. The binding force of the trade unions in one case as well as that of the churches in the other decreased. But the erosion of traditional milieus should not be confused with a general dissolution of the milieu. Rather, sociological surveys revealed a differentiation of social milieus. New milieus, which can be distinguished in their value orientations and in which generational differences play a stronger role, meanwhile overlay the old classifications (see also "Information on Political Education" No. 269 on the subject of "Social Change in Germany").

Wealth and consumption

Wage power
The real disposable income per head of the population in the Federal Republic or in the old federal states (based on the price level of 1991) rose from DM 16,169 (1970) to DM 25,121 (1991), an increase of, according to the Expert Council for the Assessment of Macroeconomic Development over 50 percent. West German society experienced a considerable increase in prosperity overall in the seventies and eighties. This was evident in the reallocation of consumption. While according to the calculations of the Federal Statistical Office in 1962/63, 58 percent of income was used directly for life - by definition for food, clothing and housing - in 1973 it was only 44 percent and in 1978 it was only 42 percent. Since then, the value has remained at this level.

Social differentiation

However, the distribution of national income experienced an opposite development. The wage share (share of income from self-employed work) rose in the 1970s from 68 (1970) to 76 percent (1980) and then fell again to 70 percent (1991), while in the same period - vice versa - the rate of income from self-employed Labor fell from 32 percent (1970) to 24 percent (1980) and then increased again to 30 percent (1991). Behind these statistical data are economic, financial and socio-political changes which in the 1980s reinforced the social inequality that was discussed under the heading of "two-thirds society". According to this, the high-earning middle class is expanding and two-thirds of society are living in increasing prosperity, while at the same time a deep social rift is emerging with the lower third of society, which is dependent on state support.

However, this designation suggested a wrong picture. While the relative changes were little noticeable in the large part of the income groups and thus the social stratification remained largely in the same proportions, there were the greatest changes at the upper and lower margins of society. On the one hand, the relative prosperity of the self-employed (excluding farmers) improved to an extraordinary extent; In 1970 they achieved an average income of around 140 percent compared to the average of all income earners; in 1990 it was around 250 percent.

On the other hand, those who were dependent on welfare, unemployment benefits, unemployment benefits and similar benefits suffered relative losses. In addition, more people fell through the mesh of the social network. According to the criterion for poverty set by the United Nations of having less than half of the average net income available, the proportion of the poor population in the Federal Republic and in the old federal states rose from 6.5 percent (1973) to 10.2 percent (1991). In particular, single mothers, families with many children, young people and the "long-term unemployed" as well as foreign citizens were increasingly poor in the population. There were also differences between German and foreign households, for example in terms of the furnishings of the apartments. While German households had an average of 43.5 square meters of living space per person in 1989, foreign households only had 21.7 square meters.

The differentiation of the income spectrum and the culturally shaped preferences must be considered when looking at the development of consumption. One of the most striking features is certainly the increase in cars, which particularly clearly symbolizes the claim to individual freedom. After their number had tripled in the 1960s, it doubled again from 13.9 (1970) to 30.7 million (1990; old federal states). A car was present in 44 percent of all households in 1969, 62 percent in 1978 and 68 percent in 1988 - so the Federal Republic of Germany became a largely automobile society in the 1970s and 1980s.

During the same period there was also the widespread expansion of electrical household appliances, the ownership of which until the 1960s was still very dependent on the level of income. According to official statistics, there was a washing machine in 61 percent of all households in 1969, and in 86 percent in 1988. In the case of refrigerators, the level of equipment increased from 84 to 98 percent, for freezers from 14 to 65 percent, and for dishwashers from 2 to 29 percent.

The share of expenditures that were spent by the four-person households of blue-collar and white-collar workers with middle income on leisure goods and vacations shows an increase from 12.3 (1970) to 18.4 percent (1990). Particularly impressive for this average household, as defined by official statistics, is the increase in communication and entertainment electronics devices. This concerned not only the arrival of television and radio in the last households still not broadcasting (see also page 38f.), Promoted primarily by color TV sets and radio in stereo quality, but also the acquisition of new technical devices. The largest increases in sales within all the entertainment industries were achieved between 1975 and 1985 in the phono industry. A video recorder was available in 22 percent of households in 1985 and 54 percent in 1990. The proportion of households that owned a personal computer (PC) rose from 13 to 32 percent over the same period. The implementation of the telephone, which was only available in one fifth of households in 1970, in 86 percent in 1980 and in 98 percent in 1990, was also of primary importance for changing everyday patterns and shaping lifestyles.

According to surveys by the EMNID Institute, the leisure budget of German citizens increased by around a quarter between 1969 and 1982. In addition to media consumption at home, sport in particular benefited from this. The number of members of the German Sports Association (DSB) doubled from around ten million members in 1970 to around 20 million members in 1987. In addition, diverse unorganized sports activities must be included, such as jogging, which gradually became popular at the end of the 1980s, and other activities that lead to increasing fitness -Wave belonged. Vacation tourism also expanded enormously, despite stagnating real incomes in the 1980s. In 1987 two thirds of all German citizens went on vacation, and again more than two thirds of them went abroad.