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Munich tops German economic future study, eastern cities improving

Munich has topped a list of German regions ranked according to economic prospects and quality of life. New research shows that historically lagging cities in the east are catching up, while the west is sliding backwards.

Deep gaps in prosperity and economic sustainability exist across Germany, according to a study published by the Berlin-based Prognos Institute on Friday.

Regions in the south are booming, the researchers found. Nine of the top 10 future-ready cities are in the lower half of the country, with Munich and its surrounding region named as having the brightest prospects.

Every three years the Prognos Institute releases its

"Atlas of the Future"

looking at the performance of 402 cities and counties in Germany.

"Economic growth in recent years hasn't helped level out disparities in Germany," the researchers wrote in this year's study. "Instead, the existing inequalities are greater and the contrasts are starker."

In determining the rankings, researchers assessed 29 criteria, including competitiveness, economic performance, job prospects, prosperity, demographics and innovation.

Shopping street in Leipzig

Although southern German centers dominate the growth index, cities like Leipzig in the East are on the way up

Eastern Germany catching up

The Bavarian capital has consistently led the rankings since the list was published in 2004. In this year's study, Hamburg in the north was ranked number 18, while Düsseldorf in the west was at number 21. Several former East German cities have also made big strides forward in the 2016 atlas.

Leipzig moved up from number 334 in 2004 to 137. Erfurt leapt from 315 in 2004 to 177, while Berlin moved from 262 to 114. Dresden, Chemnitz and Potsdam have also been making strides. However, the situation remained bleak for eastern Germany's rural areas. The eastern district of Stendal was at the bottom of the rankings, followed by eight other eastern regions.

The researchers also found that the situation in the far west of the country had markedly deteriorated since 2004. The southwestern district of Kaiserslautern, for example, has slipped from 85th position to 309th. Krefeld (335), Zweibrücken (317) and Dortmund (283) were also among the other western German cities to move down in the rankings.

Researchers listed high unemployment and child poverty among the biggest problems hindering growth in struggling areas.

nm/sms (AFP, dpa)

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