Germany Fights Population Drop

As German towns work to hide the emptiness, demographers say a similar fate awaits other European countries, with frightening implications for the economy.
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Ravenna, I think you've misinterpreted and misrepresented my comment. I don't find any place in my comment where I state that all women should bear children. I absolutely agree that a woman who feels that childbearing and motherhood amount to slavery should NOT have children.

2 2018-07-19 17:01:43 - Paul

As regards employment and health coverage for seniors, compared to present day Germany we, in this selectively limited democracy, are barely civilized barbarians.

11 2018-07-15 06:49:59 - sarai

No pressure on the kids themselves at all. What if you outlive your kids? Or maybe they hate you for whatever reason(and no, you don't have as much control over that as you think)? Or what if they just aren't that good at elder care? Or maybe they don't have enough money/time to take care of you? Then what?

If children are retirement insurance they are the worst plan I've ever seen.

1 2017-10-05 09:47:12 - viator1

As we slowly abandon the monotheistic dogma that insists we alone are unique and everything on earth, creatures included, are here for our use this growth at all costs mindset will fall away. The other beasts of the planet have just as much right to earth as we do. I don't see where we get the right to destroy their planet just because we have opposable thumbs and writing.

2 2017-09-18 17:58:35 - Garrett Clay

But whether they will succeed is unclear. A recent study found that more than half the Greeks and Spaniards who came to Germany left within a year. Many arrivals are young and highly qualified and see a global market for their skills. And many, given the opportunity, will probably go home, experts say. Immigration in general has become more temporary, and moving across borders in Europe is especially easy.

“I think the answer is that we need to look outside Europe,” Dr. Klingholz said.

How about Americans? There are lots of unemployed young college graduates looking for jobs and stuck with low-paying service work and there's stiff competition even for internships. In fact, the U.S. government is plotting to jack up immigration to make the unemployment situation even worse. German companies should start coming over to the USA and poach some of our young talent unwanted by greedy employers lobbying for increased H1Bs.

17 2017-07-17 01:12:04 - begordon

It is very discouraging how many commenters can't seem to differentiate between demographic changes in Europe and overpopulation in third-world countries and the world as a whole (which is obviously a real problem). Similarly, we saw during the financial crisis how many Americans, including many NYT readers, seem to lack a basic understanding of economics.

What sincerely worries me is that the inability to see both sides of the coin (whether that coin is capitalism or demographics) leads to the exactly the kind of ideology-driven thinking that many of the same people would otherwise decry. Saying that population growth (or in the case of this article, a stable population, if you bothered to read it carefully) is always and everywhere a bad thing, or that capitalism is intrinsically bad, or that banks are inherently evil, is intellectually lazy and downright dangerous.

4 2017-07-03 00:55:44 - RM


You are a truly advanced nation.

This is a ridiculous article. The problem in the US, many think, is structural unemployment due to the ongoing and irreversible efficiencies and deflation caused by information technology. Many think that the fed is locked into perpetual QE or QE in fits and starts after every boom bust boom cycle.

If Germany looks after its people, with health insurance and benefits, the type of workforce that will continue to produce high-end niche products, not race-to-the-bottom MBA'd "VALUE ENGINEERED" trash produced in current US factories or in China, then they will WANT a smaller workforce,

I would only hope that ALL countries rapidly shrink their population because that is the only hope for the ecosystems of the planet.

25 2017-06-14 20:31:03 - scientella

The Germans are lucky. I couldn't disagree more with the idea that a decrease in population is a bad thing. Almost all of our problems would be easier to deal with were the population smaller. There are simply too many people in the world now.

83 2017-06-09 09:26:01 - gbb


If population growth is such motor of economic progress, then all the grossly over-populated Third World nations should have become the land of milk and honey by now. But instead, they do all they can to escape their alleged bliss and they stream across our Southern border instead, legally and illegally.

Massive global population transfers are a dangerous phenomenon, advocated by people with feeble knowledge of history. Besides, as one economist put it: even our best economic models do not account for such parameters as ethnic strife and conflicts imported from abroad. An out-of-control cultural and religious Diversity can be deadly. All you need to do is to look around the globe.

We better start assimilating all the immigrant folks that are currently here – rather than fanatically importing the whole world – because no nation is immune to the laws of history.

6 2017-05-22 21:27:54 - Norman G. Ehrlich

ANOTHER population not growing = crisis article? Population growth is unsustainable--when a country with a population which already exceeds its carrying capacity stops growing, that's a GOOD thing. Not just good, but a necessity unless you want a die-off. Germany's current ecological footprint exceeds its biocapacity. This fact belongs in any article about the country's population and its effects.

27 2017-05-21 17:27:04 - brobdingnagian

LB, I think the problem is more that populations are growing in undeveloped impoverished countries and not in industrialized countries. Who is having all the kids is the right question.

As a far as the NY Times being biased, I see you must be reading it for some reason. All media have some bias but I think the NY Times and Washington Post both try to give a balanced view.

4 2017-05-21 09:56:25 - JJP

That's what the Black Death did - massive population decline was a godsend for medieval Europe. All the infrastructure, which was built by people, remained to serve a far smaller number of people who prospered as a result. The population reduction caused by the Black Death is said to be the major impetus for the Renaissance. Wars similarly are positive for the same reasons, although in some cases, much of the infrastructure gets destroyed. Population reduction and infrastructure destruction in Europe and Japan enabled the undamaged U.S. to prosper until those countries rebuilt their economies and populations.

8 2017-04-27 11:46:35 - workerbee

It is truly bizarre to have articles like this published in the NY Times. Germany is a tiny country geographically--it would fit nicely into Pennsylvania and New York--but with a teeming population of over 80 million. It has a population density of over 225 people per square kilometer--if you can imagine every square kilometer of Penn. and NY packed with 225 people per sq. kilometer, then you get an idea of what it's like to live in Germany. The country has added 10 million people since WWII, and this after experiencing the worst population catastrophe in human history. To have higher mammals like homo sapiens packed together so densely is a biological disaster in waiting. In terms of sustainability and the environment, a land mass the size of Germany should have no more than a couple of million homo sapiens, maximum. And you're concerned about Germany's "fertility levels"? Give me a break.

90 2017-04-17 04:12:34 - Renaldo

You're dead right. If only Europe was as equitable and fair as the US in all its attidudes and undertakings we'd be laughing.

2 2017-04-15 14:24:25 - Lynne

So rather than deal with the consequences of a smaller population and a single generation dominated by older folks (for they will eventually die out, you know), it's preferable to return to the days of explosive population growth throughout the world? That seems to be the conventional thinking, not just in this article, but in almost everything I read anywhere. Politicians, economists, and news media parrot the same dire warnings. The benefits of a lower population to Earth's environment and the preservation of our natural resources seemingly have little value anymore (except in the third world, of course). Think, please, about the long-term consequences of always relying on population growth to keep our economies strong. A previous commenter referred to this emphasis on population growth as a "pyramid scheme." I think she's right--and the world is full of suckers. But who cares what happens in 200 or 400 or a thousand years? We're all winners today.

231 2017-04-08 02:00:45 - gf

I like my living standards A LOT higher than some small town in America where the selection of food, people, and culture, doesn't even come close to the shining vital city of New York.

0 2017-04-03 18:34:57 - Jack NYC

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." (Edward Abbey)

27 2017-03-16 14:42:39 - Donny-Don

Susan – The planet isn't overpopulated – just certain places like Africa and India. With that said, you'll get your wish. Despite huge population growths predicted over the next 100 years or so according to a recent UN Population Study roughly around the year 3000 all of Russia and most of Europe will be gone with the deaths of the final females in those countries. The last surviving female in Brazil and India will be gone about 500 years after that and the last Chinese female will die in roughly year 5000. If all remains the same the only populated countries will be the U.S. and parts of Africa. If this seems like a long way in the future – its not – the pyramids in Egypt are roughly as old as this time frame.

2 2017-03-13 11:45:52 - Wilson1ny

Rarely mentioned in stories about climate change is the huge problem of overpopulation. More and more people place more and more demands on shrinking resources. More people need more food, more energy, more water, more land. Cancer is a form of growth we spend billions trying to eradicate. Unrestrained population growth is a cancer destroying our planet, yet articles like this call shrinking population a problem. It would be good news if all countries were seeing a decline in population, not just Germany and countries in Western Europe. Eventually, if we don't take measures to reduce human population, nature will do it for us .


9 2017-03-12 22:51:14 - Steve Crimmin

The good, but politically incorrect, news - declining birth rates are a major solution to global warming. Seriously, declining birthrates bode serious concerns for western culture.

1 2017-03-08 08:56:39 - Steve R.

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