Stuffing the IRA, avoiding the penniless cousins

Germany gets a bad rap (it’s hard to talk about the problems in Europe right now without getting onto German elites’ sins of omission or commission from Kohl onwards). But think about Germany from the point of demographics, which makes the vehemence of German opinion a little more sensible. Germany (like Austria, the Baltic States, Italy and a few others) is on a serious downward demographic trajectory, as is nicely argued in this post. It is an ageing society, with a very low fertility rate and limited immigration or immigrant integration, and it is about to tip into Japanese territory, when the lack of demographic growth diminishes economic growth.

Plenty of Germans can see an identity between their personal situation- that of a person who is soon to retire but still has too much debt- and their country- full of people who are soon to retire, and who collectively have too much debt. What does such a person do? Stuff the IRA with every penny available, pay down debt, obsess about house prices and interest rates on savings accounts… and avoid the penniless cousins who always need a loan.


About scottlgreer

Associate Professor, Health Management and Policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. I am a specialist in the health politics and welfare states of of advanced industrial countries, with a special research focus on the politics of the UK, France, Spain and the European Union.
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