E-Mail: chelinimp [at] noos.fr
The History and Policy of Wages in the GDR
The wage issues form an important and yet hardly explored dimension of social and economic life of a society: wage negotiations, the role of unions, enforcement of salary scales, social conflicts, etc. In the liberal Western countries after 1950 the total wage share represents about half the GDP and 70% of household income. In 1950 the wage earners represent about two-thirds of the working population and today about 90%.
After a PhD on the development of inflation in the post-war France (1944-52) and a historical presentation of the French franc in the 20th century, my post-doctoral research has focused on the wage growth in France in 1944-1967 with a comparative dimension by a few “samples” in other public Archives: EEC/EU, United Kingdom, Federal Republic of Germany. Despite its own national characteristics, such as the Mitbestimmung-determination disposition or a low level of strikes in germanic and scandinavian industrial relations it could be confirmed that the differences in wage systems between Western European countries are less important than the similarities.
From this point of view came the idea (2008/09) to apply this analytical method to the socialist economy. The GDR documentation about the east-german wage system seems to offer important advantages for research such as a German-language documentation and a geographical concentration of the archive documents in Berlin.
The present project attempts to present an overview of the wage issue in the communist era (1945-1990). The socialist wage system will be checked through “traditional” wage approach (wages, wage scale, wage negotiations, etc.) including a background comparison with west-Germany evolution: from the german partition in a kind of a “Cold War in pay” around 1945-89 to the “reunification of wage system” in 1990.
This project takes part of a broader research on wage developments in Europe since 1950, especially in France and Germany facing emerging countries with the theme: convergence or competition in the context of globalisation.