From the Christian Science Monitor comes a story that one suspects will be manifesting itself across other parts of secular progressive Europe: Entire emptied Spanish enclaves for sale.
You probably know the backstory:
All of Europe is rapidly aging, as women choose to have fewer children, or none at all, and immigration – despite the shrill news about a flood of migrants into Europe – has failed to reach the corners of the Continent where populations are the oldest.
Demography is quick becoming the key policy challenge of Europe’s leaders, as countries scramble to figure out how to keep labor systems running and pensions paid.
But it is also having a profound impact on the physical landscape of Europe, from maternity wards and schools closing their doors, to churches being turned into art venues and leisure centers.
What is fascinating is the way in which Spaniards in the Galicia region are seeking to cope with the new demographic normal:
Here in this corner of the Iberian Peninsula, the business of selling abandoned villages has even become something of a policy tool. One mayor is trying to give away an abandoned village in his district for free, so long as “buyers” promise to restore it and add back value – ideally drawing young people while they do so.
If Galicia cannot turn back its demographic trends, says Xoaquin Fernandez Leiceaga, a former lawmaker and professor of economics at the University of Santiago de Compostela, parts of it could quickly turn into wildland.
“Already villages of Galicia are being overrun by weeds and bushes,” he says.
Sounds a lot like parts of modern-day Detroit.
What is staggering is that there are 3,000 such villages in Spain, of which 1,500 are part of Galicia.
Will such hamlets ultimately spring back to life?
One person betting on it is Mark Adkinson, founder of the Galician Country Homes real estate firm.
Mr. Adkinson says he has identified some 400 villages in Galicia that are abandoned and could possibly be on the market if the ownership rights were determined. He currently has clients looking at five.
The real estate of abandoned villages and rural properties is a passion as well as a job. But he also says he’s gratified to play his part in repopulation: “I feel fabulous, bringing people back into Galicia, taking people back to the land.”
Still, a true rebirth will require significant capital, most importantly of the human kind.
I wouldn’t bet on the rejuvenation of a dying continent that may ultimately find itself in the center of a battle between Russians and Muslims for control, but in the ensuing period, demographic decline will present interesting opportunities to the degree to which entrepreneurs are free to put rotting assets to higher and better use.
Featured Image Source: Galician Country Homes.