Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Many European regions have seen waves of falling birth rates and outmigration during the last decades resulting in ageing and declining populations while others continue to grow. The trends of ageing and declining populations are most concentrated in countries of South and Eastern Europe but on a regional level other countries are affected as well. On the one hand, in the context of significant budget constraints for many states these demographic trends create political pressure for educational downsizing. On the other hand, the commitment of the welfare state to provide equal education opportunities sets normative limits to thinning out the net of schooling facilities. One could even argue that the decline of the economically active population (in the long) run creates even political pressure for additional investments in human capital in order to sustain high productivity levels of the future workforce and in order to avoid social exclusion of vulnerable groups. Hence, the strategies of adapting school infrastructure to a declining target population are usually highly contested between interest groups. What are the patterns and outcomes of these political struggles? The proposed contribution investigates this question based on data for the East German state with the most pronounced population decline since re-unification. In a first step the two types of data (official statistics [1991-2009] and regional press [1991-2014]) are analysed separately. In a second step these two types of data are combined using event history analysis.