Ever more Germans are leaving small villages and towns for life in the big cities.
They are looking for new job opportunities and access to better health care, education and public transportation, not to mention cultural offers. And they are finding all these things in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich, as well as Frankfurt and Stuttgart, according to Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development.
Villages and towns across Germany are hemorrhaging people at a rate of 1-5 percent each year. And as they leave, so, too, goes a certain quality of life.
It’s a vicious cycle. People move when their towns lack doctors, jobs and schools. And it is often the elderly who remain behind, unable to afford big-city prices.
The expectation of a right to equal living standards, promised by the German constitution, has become “an empty shell,” said Mr. Klingholz.
There are solutions to the many problems facing smaller towns and rural communities, but they often fall prey to stifling bureaucracy and legal hurdles, such as minimum pupil requirements, hygiene regulations and insurance policies, according to Mr. Klingholz.