Speaking of German-speakers, in 2006 in my book America Alone, I wrote:
30 per cent of German women are now childless. Among German university graduates, it’s over 40 per cent… Almost every issue facing the European Union – from immigration rates to crippling state pension liabilities – has at its heart the same root cause: a huge lack of babies.
Every day you get ever more poignant glimpses of the Euro-future, such as it is. One can talk airily about being flushed down the toilet of history, but even that’s easier said than done. In eastern Germany, rural communities are dying, and one consequence is that village sewer systems are having a tough time adjusting to the lack of use. Populations have fallen so dramatically there are too few people flushing to keep the flow of waste moving. Traditionally, government infrastructure expenditure arises from increased demand. In this case, the sewer lines are having to be narrowed at great cost in order to cope with dramatically decreased demand.
As I often say, the trick in this biz is not to be right too soon. What was “alarmist” (The Economist) in 2006 is now conventional wisdom. The New York Times reports today from Sonneberg:
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. In some areas, there are now abundant overgrown yards, boarded-up windows and concerns about sewage systems too empty to work properly.
From America Alone:
In the course of the 21st century, Germany’s population will fall by over 50 per cent to some 38 million or lower.
The New York Times seven years later:
In its most recent census, Germany discovered it had lost 1.5 million inhabitants. By 2060, experts say, the country could shrink by an additional 19 percent, to about 66 million.
So alarmist nuts like me and respectable chaps like the Times are now in agreement on where we’re headed, and in dispute merely about the speed we’re getting there.