"There is perhaps nowhere better than the German countryside to see the dawning impact of Europe’s plunge in fertility rates over the decades, a problem that has frightening implications for the economy and the psyche of the Continent," write Suzanne Daley and Nicholas Kulish. "In some areas, there are now abundant overgrown yards, boarded-up windows and concerns about sewage systems too empty to work properly."
"In its most recent census, Germany discovered it had lost 1.5 million inhabitants," they explain, with a future decline of up to 19 percent expected over the next four decades. "Demographers say a similar future awaits other European countries, and the issue grows more pressing every day as Europe’s seemingly endless economic troubles accelerate the decline."
"Germany, however, an island of prosperity, is spending heavily to find ways out of the doom-and-gloom predictions, and it would seem ideally placed to show the Continent the way. So far, though, even while spending $265 billion a year on family subsidies, Germany has proved only how hard it can be."
A solution may require no less than a cultural shift in the country's approach to immigrants, older workers and working mothers.