London: The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 may have blighted a generation of children in east Germany, who were more likely to commit crimes than their west German peers, a new study claims.
According to researchers, kids born to parents in former East Germany between 1991 and 1993 were at least 50 per cent more likely to become criminals as they grew up.
The possible reason behind the trend was that the sudden collapse of the Communist regime created uncertainty about starting families, and led to a huge drop in the birth rate, they said.
The study noted that women who had children were "younger, less educated and more likely to be unmarried mothers."
Researchers Arnaud Chevalier, of Royal Holloway University of London and Olivier Marie of the University of Maastricht, argue that this explained the criminal behaviour of the "Children of the Wall".
They suggest that the parents of the children born immediately after re-unification were less likely to have good parenting skills, 'The Telegraph' reported.
"Our results seem to confirm that parental selection may be the best predictor of future criminality," researchers said.
From the age of eight onwards, the children of this generation were far more likely to be arrested by the police, the researchers found.
They are also over-represented in the total criminal population by more than two-thirds.
The study looked at whether the crime rate might be explained by poor school performance, but found that there were no significant differences between the East German children and Western counterparts when it came to dropping out of school or repeating grades.
Researchers also found that the children were no more likely than Westerners to argue or fight with their parents – but were less likely to report feeling loved.
"This indicates that parents who decided to have children at time of great economic uncertainties may have been worse parents who did not develop the appropriate emotional connection with their children," the researchers said.