Scale of Analysis Applied to Germany

Scale of analysis is the scale in which you analyze a specific region or factor. The scale of analysis can greatly affect the way you view a certain place. You can use the scale of analysis to study a place at the global scale, regional scale, national scale, and even at a city or local scale. When the scale of analysis is applied to analyzing a country, your image of that country can change depending on how big or small your scale is. In this blog post, I will apply the scale of analysis to Germany and analyze its GDP per capita and its religions. It will show what a dramatic difference a scale of analysis can make. When using the scale of analysis on the GDP per capita of Germany and Europe, I looked at three different scales: Europe as a world region, eastern and western Europe as “sub” regions, and finally Germany on a national scale as an individual country.

When we think of Europe, most of the time we picture a family with a high income living in a single house with a big garden. But, there are huge disparities of GDP per capita between countries. When I averaged the GDP per capitas of all European countries, the GDP per capita was 31,006.5553 euros (33393.75 usd). When I compared the average GDP per capita of Europe to that of Sub Saharan Africa for example, is much higher.

A chloropleth map showing GDP per capita in major world regions.

A chloropleth map showing GDP per capita in major world regions.

After looking at the global level, I looked at the GDP per capita of both western and eastern Europe. After averaging the GDP per capita of the western european countries, the average GDP per capita was 25,287.6704 euros (27,234.56818 usd). Eastern Europe on the other hand is significantly poorer with an average GDP per capita of 10,940.4754 euros (11,782.78261 usd). [eastern europe may be rich compared to Sub Saharan Africa but compared to western europe it is poor.] This shows how even though many of us have the image of Europe having a generally high income, it still depends on in which parts of Europe you live in.

This is another chloropleth map showing the GDP per capitas of Europe. Note that western Europe has darker shades of green indicating higher GDP per capita.

This is another chloropleth map showing the GDP per capitas of Europe. Note that western Europe has darker shades of green indicating higher GDP per capita.

Analyzing at an even closer scale is the national scale; the country scale. Germany as a country has a GDP per capita of 43,038.4683 euros (46,352 usd). From this, we can see that Germany being one of the richest countries in Western Europe has a higher GDP per capita than the average GDP per capita of Western Europe. When you look at Portugal on the other hand, it’s GDP per capita is much lower at 21 812.0499 euros (23,930 usd). In conclusion, yes, a country may be in an overall rich region but it doesn’t mean that its GDP per capita is close to the average GDP per capita of the entire region. In this case, it’s Portugal.

This is the map showing GDP per capita of the German states. (state/city level)

This is the map showing GDP per capita of the German states. (state/city level)

Germany is divided into 16 federal states called bundeslaender. At the state scale, there are also differences in GDP per capita. In the above map of Germany’s states and their GDP per capitas, you can see that the poorest states are the ones in the north-east. Those states with GDP per capita of 20,000 to 24,000 usd are Thuringia, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Why? Well, these states are part of the land that was under Soviet occupation during WWII. The Soviet’s iron curtain, prevented free trade with the rest of Germany and the world. Their low GDP per capitas show a relic boundary that can be clearly seen today.

These states are also part of Germany’s own “rust belt” region. Which means they used to be industrial regions but the factories shut down and relocated. The Soviet’s strict communist rule has scarred that region and prevented it from developing a service sector. Naturally, this region is poorer. In stark contrast are the northwestern and southern states of Germany. They clearly have a higher GDP per capita than northeastern Germany. These are the states that were free of Soviet communist influence. They industrialized, deindustrialized, and successfully moved into the service sector, gradually extending into the tertiary, quaternary, and even the quinary sector. These high sectors are characterized by high education and high paying jobs. One example would be Hamburg. The map shows that Hamburg as a city-state has one of the highest GDP per capitas than the rest of Germany. After WWII, Hamburg rapidly developed into a center of commerce and banking. Another factor is its strategic location as a major port.

Another factor you can compare using the scale of analysis is culture. I will apply the scale of analysis to religion this time, and will again have three scales: global, national, and state/city level. When we look at the map above of major religions of the world, all of Europe is purple-meaning it is dominantly Christian.

This map shows the dominant religions of the world, note that Europe as a whole is mainly purple. Also note that Germany has Muslims in the Berlin region.

This map shows the dominant religions of the world, note that Europe as a whole is mainly purple. Also note that Germany has Muslims in the Berlin region.

This will make us think that Germany is all Christian. Now as we look at the national scale, aka country scale, we see a clear division between two main branches of Christianity– Protestantism and Catholicism. Historically, we know that Germany is divided between the Northern protestants and the Southern Catholics. At this scale, we will generally believe that Germany is Christian and is divided between Catholics and Protestants. “Zooming in” even closer is the city/state scale. In the German states of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Berlin, Saxony Anhalt, Saxony, and Thuringia, there are very large percentages of nonreligious people. That means, yes, maybe the northern states have large amounts of protestants, but there is also a large percentage of that population that is actually non- religious (map below) If we go even further to the city/local scale, Berlin will stand out as a city with a very large minority of Turkish muslims (map above).

A map of the major religious beliefs of Germany. Purple is the population that is dominantly non religious. Pink is the populations that is majority protestantism. The yellow region is for the Catholics.

A map of the major religious beliefs of Germany. Purple is the population that is dominantly non religious. Pink is the populations that is majority Protestantism. The yellow region is for the Catholics.

In conclusion, when we use different scales to look at one specific thing or place, our perception of that place changes dramatically depending on what scale we use to analyse it with. In the case of Europe, we proved by using the scale of analysis that there are huge distinctions between different regions and countries within Europe. Depending on where you are, differences between rich and poor are very clear. A country located in a rich region is not necessarily rich. When we looked at religion, we proved that Germany, a dominantly Christian country, has internal regions and cities that have huge amounts of muslims or even non-religious people.

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