Intergroup contact and group relative deprivation have both been shown to play a key role in the understanding of intergroup relations. Nevertheless, we know little about their causal relationship. In order to shed some light on the directionality and causality of the relationship between intergroup contact and group relative deprivation, we analysed responses by East and West Germans from k= 97 different cities, collected 6 (NT1= 1,001), 8 (NT2= 747), and 10 years (NT3= 565) after reunification. Multi-level cross-lagged analyses showed that group relative deprivation at T1 led to more (rather than less) intergroup contact between East and West Germans 2 years as well as 4 years later. We found no evidence for the reverse causal relationship, or moderation by group membership. Furthermore, admiration mediated the positive effect of relative deprivation on intergroup contact for both East and West Germans. This intriguing finding suggests that intergroup contact may be used as a proactive identity management strategy by members of both minority and majority groups.