Germany’s birth rate has collapsed to the lowest level in the world and its workforce will start plunging at a faster rate than Japan’s by the early 2020s, seriously threatening the long-term viability of Europe’s leading economy.
A study by the World Economy Institute in Hamburg (HWWI) found that the average number of births per 1,000 population dropped to 8.2 over the five years from 2008 to 2013, further compounding a demographic crisis already in the pipeline. Even Japan did slightly better at 8.4.
“No other industrial country is deteriorating at this speed despite the strong influx of young migrant workers. Germany cannot continue to be a dynamic business hub in the long-run without a strong jobs market,” warned the institute. …
The German government expects the population to shrink from 81m to 67m by 2060 as depressed pockets of the former East Germany go into “decline spirals” where shops, doctors’ practices, and public transport start to shut down, causing yet more people to leave in a vicious circle.
I’ve been reading warnings about the dangers of population collapse in first world countries — mostly in Europe, but increasingly in the U.S. — for years. Typically, they are of a If we don’t do something about this long term trend, there’s going to be hell to pay variety. But the situation is Germany sounds dire, imminent, and not easily remedied.
The projections are that Germany will shrink from 81 million to 67 million over the next several decades, and that its workforce will lose a net 6 million over the next 15 years and then go into “free fall.” That represents an unimaginable loss of production. Consider what a rapidly decreasing population has wrought on cities like Detroit here in the U.S. and project that to an entire nation.
In addition, Germany has a massive welfare state to support. They’ve implemented a lot of dubious fiscal policies, like offering tuition-free college education, even for non-residents. “Free,” remember, is not actually free; it just means someone else is paying for it. And there are soon to be 6 million fewer taxpayers available to pick up the tab on all these “free” programs. I suspect we’ll see more than a little “peaceful protesting” when all these entitlements start getting taken away.
Sadly, the prospects of turning this leviathan around are deemed to be slim.
Germany cannot easily turn around the demographic tanker. Academic studies show that fertility rates tend to be structural – caused by deeply-rooted cultural patterns and social systems – and change very slowly in peacetime.
Already, entire towns are laying out strategies for managing their impending extinction.
A number of small towns in Saxony, Brandenburg and Pomerania have begun to contemplate plans for gradual “run-off” and ultimate closure, a once unthinkable prospect.