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French-German Border Shapes More Than Territory

March 6, 2012 1 minute Read by Four Percent

Steven Erlanger, The New York Times SÉLESTAT, France — This ancient town in the center of Alsace boasts the extraordinary Humanist Library, dating from the 15th century. But less proudly, Sélestat also has an unemployment rate of about 8 percent, much higher than towns just across the border in Germany. Emmendingen, a German town of 27,000 that is only slightly larger than Sélestat and barely 20 miles away, has an unemployment rate of under 3 percent. Among those under 25 years of age, the unemployment rate in Sélestat is 23 percent; in Emmendingen, it is 7 percent. The divergent economic circumstances of these two towns are striking, particularly given the cross-border cultural ties in the region. The reasons for the disparities, much debated, have emerged as a focal point of the French presidential campaign. Read More

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