Population Plummets in Rural Germany

Rural areas in Germany are seeing major declines in population. Some worry that these declining villages and towns are being left by the wayside as the nation heads towards urban centers.
May 15, 2011, 9am PDT | Nate Berg
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Towns throughout the country are seeing major declines in population. Some argue that more should be done to save dying areas.

"85 out of the town's 820 houses are empty. The town had 3,000 inhabitants not too long ago, but now there are only 1,900. When elderly citizens have passed away, there has been no one there to replace them.

'Nobody lives there anymore either,' Daum says, pointing to a mint-green single-family house. The industrial bakery moved to the east, he explains, and the area in front of the former garden furniture factory is full of dandelions. The Edeka grocery store closed its doors for good last year, and no trains have passed through the town since 1994.

And don't get Daum started on money issues. Most state contributions to municipalities depend on their population figures. But since people are moving away from Nordhalben, it has had to borrow €3.5 million ($5 million) just to make ends meet. 'We're now taking out loans just to pay off our other loans.' Daum says. 'If we were a company, we'd be a classic case of insolvency.'"

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Published on Thursday, May 12, 2011 in Der Spiegel
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