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Population Decline and the Future of Germany (December 7, 2005)

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One of the most important questions will be how to ensure that attention and care is given to growing numbers of elderly people with no family to look after them. While traveling through the country, through Germany, I saw a lot of good examples of this. For example, the Gröpelingen Stiftungsdorf in Bremen – a residential community where immigrants, mostly from Turkey, spend their old age together with native-born Germans. The community has a daycare facility for the youngest residents, gives the disabled a place to call home, has an adult education center that encourages new ideas and teaches new skills, and, most interesting of all, was initiated and financed by a businessman of Turkish heritage. There is also the example of multigenerational houses where young and old help each other – by caring for each other and sharing whatever they have, be it children’s clothing or skills, and especially time and – perhaps most important – attention. What can we do to make such ideas reality?

Another central question will be how to restructure and supplement our social security systems so that in the future the growing number of elderly will still be able to enjoy old age without overburdening the younger generations. We have to pay far greater attention than we have in the past to identifying places where we can save and where state actions can be made more effective, so that our children and grandchildren will continue to have some financial and political room for maneuvering.

[ . . . ]

Source: “Rede von Bundespräsident Horst Köhler auf der Konferenz ‘Demographischer Wandel’ on December 6, 2005, in Berlin” [“Speech by Federal President Horst Köhler at the Conference on Demographic Change”], Bulletin [Press and Information Office of the Federal Government], no. 98-1 (December 7, 2005).

Translation: Allison Brown

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