Germany’s social systems have repeatedly and successfully absorbed major
shocks over the last few decades, reunification being the most notable example.
This event created three Herculean tasks. The first was to protect individuals
who became unemployed as a result of the collapse of socialism. In East
Germany alone the number of registered unemployed – despite high levels of
emigration – rose from 1.0 m to 1.6 m between 1991 and 2005. The second and
third tasks involved integrating East German citizens into unified Germany’s
health and pension insurance schemes.