Small Towns

Pushing Against Big City Pull

Well, that's one way to boost the rural population. Source: DPA
Well, that's one way to boost the rural population.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Smaller towns can stem the flow of residents leaving for big cities if they are willing to be flexible and creative in providing public services.

  • Facts


    • Villages and small towns across Germany are losing people at a rate of 1-to-5 percent each year.
    • Creative solutions to the problems facing villages often fall prey to stifling bureaucracy and legal hurdles.
    • A study funded by insurer Generali lists 37 nationwide projects that ran into such hurdles yet managed to overcome them.
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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.

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