Sadness in China:
Mind you, I like eastern Europe.  I once spent a day (my diary said it was two days … go figure) in East Berlin in the days of the wall.  It was marvelous to be in a great city that was so quiet and direct.  It was unostentatious.  Somehow it seemed honest.  (Except maybe I was abducted and brainwashed during the missing day, but I did say “seemed.”) 

It is getting depopulated, and were I younger, richer and had fewer roots here I would think of moving there.  You could probably get a big house, maybe a castle, for rather cheap and maintenance wouldn’t be much more than I pay in property taxes now.  There would, if I read correctly, be a number of idle people.  That’s just my ticket.  We’d make movies, have readings for what few children there were, have musical evenings, there’s so much to do if you have people to work with.  I could put out all my treasures instead of having them crated as now, since the house I occupy, three bedrooms and a library, just won’t accommodate my stuff.  I think I’d choose Romania.  I speak no Slavic at all, but I once saw something written in Romanian and found I could read it right off; it was simplified Latin.  So I might have a chance to learn the local dialect. 

That said, without me there to cheer them up, there do seem to be problems.  A couple of years ago there was a fair amount of clucking about mental disease among the elderly there.  Well people who commit suicide are generally depressed and depression is a disease, so there you are.  Reading between the line I imagine a town with no children; the young women have moved away to the cities where their good looks get them a job.  The only local work is bulldozing abandoned buildings; the old folks commit suicide, and the young men drink.  There are worse ways to live, but it does seem sad.

Well it has now hit China. (Rural China is No Country for Old People, Science vol. 352 no. 6283 April 15, 2016) The descriptions are rather less tactful, but it sounds a lot like the same story.  There are no children.  The adults are off to the city (this time the men are gone, too) and the old people get depressed.  And of course it’s a vicious cycle; the only way to have babies in the long run is to stay in the village.  Prepare for it; it’s a demography coming your way.

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