Tuesday, October 2

Increase emigration by paying people to leave?

Now this is very interesting indeed. If you are seeing people leave a region/state/country, then you might as well as pay them to leave completely. Makes economic sense, because provision of services, infrastructure, etc. becomes progressively more and more expensive as there are lesser and lesser people to fund them. So? the proposal is to empty out the place and convert the place into a forest! Makes very good sense indeed.

See here for an example in Germany.

SPIEGEL ONLINE - October 2, 2007, 12:33 PM
Cash Offer to Speed Up Eastern German Exodus
By Marie Preuss
Not everyone is celebrating German Unity Day, Oct. 3, the anniversary of reunification in 1990. Migration has left large parts of the east deserted and crumbling. A study proposes speeding up the process in worst-hit areas by paying the remaining population to leave.
People have been leaving eastern Germany in droves since reunification.
People have been leaving eastern Germany in droves since reunification.
As long as he lives, Horst Müller, 74, won't leave his home in the village of Letschin in the eastern German state of Brandenburg which surrounds Berlin. "They'll have to carry me out of here feetfirst," says the farmer who has been living in his large house for almost 40 years with "the wife," two sheep, cats, chickens and two horses.
If the Berlin Institute for Population and Development had its way, the Müllers would soon be moving out. And they'd be paid to go. The institute was commissioned by the regional parliament of Brandenburg to conduct a study on demographic change in the eastern state, and has come up with the idea of paying citizens to move away from the most deserted areas and thereby establish some sort of control over the alarming rate of depopulation that has struck the region since reunification 17 years ago sparked an economic upheaval.
Ever more schools are being closed down; housing estates and villages are becoming deserted. The study estimates that by 2030 a third of Brandenburg's population will be older than 65. That figure already stands at 20 percent. By 2030, some 470,000 will have moved out of the state compared with 2004, to jobs in the west of Germany or in more prosperous parts of the east. The region's infrastructure is already crumbling. In many areas the sewage system has fallen into chronic disrepair and there aren't enough doctors to provide emergency medical care.
A total of 173 positions for general practitioners are vacant. By 2030, many rural communities won't have a doctor, the institute warns.
Transformation into a Wilderness
It proposes massive investment in the education system and in old people's homes and to turn thinly populated areas back into a scenic wilderness. One day, wolves and foxes should prowl where Müller spent his life breeding geese, growing asparagus and planting pumpkins.
Click on a picture to launch the image gallery (5 Photos)
Not surprisingly, the study has sparked controversy. "It's relatively gaga that the government should presume to take such decisions affecting people's quality of life" said Peter Hettlich, a member of the federal parliament for the opposition Green Party. Old people had a right to live out their days where they grew up, he said.
All the government has to do is make clear to them that they can't expect big-city standards of medical care if they live 30 kilometers from the nearest doctor, said Hettlich.
The emigration is hitting Letschin hard. By 2020, its population will have shrunk to 3,000 from today's 4,800, says Mayor Michael Böttcher. "At least we've still got a school though," he added, staring out of his office window at horses grazing in a paddock.
Between 1994 and 2003 a total of 149 primary schools were closed in Brandenburg, almost a quarter of the total. As a result, the commute to the nearest school is getting longer and longer.
'Like Being Driven Out of Paradise'
But Böttcher dismisses the proposed emigration premium as "forced resettlement." He said the thought of leaving his home region fills him with "inner pain." "It's like being driven out of paradise," he said clutching his chest.
Ten kilometers down the road, in the village of Gusow, baker Edeltraut Studier, 47, shares the mayor's view but is a little less emotional about it. "It's no better in the west," she says arranging plum cakes and strawberry tarts in her shop window. She has been running the bakery for the last 20 years and wants to keep on doing so for the next 20.
In Gusow, renovated homes stand alongside crumbling ruins. "There used to be great parties in the festival hall at the end of the street," she reminisced. These days the building is falling into ruin, its windows smashed and its walls daubed with Nazi swastikas.
The idea of actively depopulating large swathes of eastern Germany is meeting with stiff resistance among local people. The Berlin Institute study's assessment that agricultural areas were lying fallow is "total nonsense," said Mayor Böttcher. "I think we'll be able to manage without subsidies in 15 years' time," he said, adding that rapeseed oil cultivation could lead to an economic revival of the region.
But Berlin Institute Director Reiner Klingholz is adamant that the region is in steady decline. Moose have begun wandering around rural parts of eastern Germany, he says. Andreas Weber, one of the authors of the study, said at least 9 percent of farmland has been taken out of agricultural production with the help of EU subsidies.
Back in Letschin, Horst Müller's sheep are bleating and his black cat Morle is rubbing against his leg. "Is there anything more beautiful?" He gets up to gather up the grass he has just mown. Then it will be time for coffee. "I've already done enough in my life," he says, and walks into his garden.

Technorati Tags: , ,

No comments: