How is human society developing?

Future: the development of our society

Societies have always changed over time. Where one generation still represented certain values, the next generation may already be responsible for completely different things. Most of the time, a noticeable change in society that pervades all layers of society, the media and people's heads alike, can be perceived very slowly and only in bits and pieces. However, there are also times like the current and probably also the coming decade when significant changes are taking place, especially in Germany. In a world that is becoming ever more dynamic, society is exposed to many challenges, which rob some of the orientation and overwhelm many people. This article shows which challenges should be given particular attention and how they can be solved or at least approached.

The demographic development

The demographic development initially describes the development of the local population and its structures on a statistical and theoretical basis. On the other hand, one speaks of demographic change, as it is currently taking place, especially when this development changes drastically, when it deviates from a longer-lasting norm and shows strong changes in new areas. This is the case when one or more of the three factors that influence a population structure change: the birth rate, the death rate and migration.

To migration

Due to migration within and between countries, society is becoming more and more diverse. The migration rate in Germany is currently one of the most discussed topics. Not only because, as a result, political extremes and, above all, strongly patriotic and right-wing parties speak up and get not a little approval, but above all because migration has a significant impact on the population structure and challenges arise that are enormously important and serious are to be taken.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, almost 2.1 million foreign people moved to Germany in 2015. 0.3 million of the people who came to Germany in 2015 were refugees from Syria who fled the civil war. Just under a million people left Germany. The migration balance of 1.1 million is the highest since the beginning of the Federal Republic. At the same time, there was an increase in immigration from EU countries, which had been recorded since the economic and currency crisis. Before this trend, the rate of people moving to Germany from abroad had actually fallen continuously since 1992.

Instead of treating the newly immigrated people with suspicion or even hatred and fascism, it is important to support families and children in order to ensure a peaceful and peaceful coexistence. The federal government has developed a number of ideas for this in recent years, the implementation of which will continue to be one of the most important tasks of the state in the future.

The most important points are the educational support of migrants, the implementation of dual citizenship, as well as measures for access to the labor market. At the same time, municipalities must address the challenge of the many newcomers: cities and municipalities are responsible for the accommodation, supply and integration of the newcomers. The use of voluntary helpers who demonstrate commitment to civil society is essential.
The steps implemented since the decision of the National Integration Plan in 2007 and the demographic strategy of the Federal Government in 2012 to better integrate migrants into society include:

General reforms in family policy, such as parental allowance, the expansion of daycare centers, or regulations on part-time work for mothers. In particular, the introduction of compulsory language courses that make everyday tasks easier for migrants in Germany. In view of the changing population structure and the changes for the labor market, social security funds and society that go hand in hand with it, it was also decided to allow dual citizenship or retirement at 67.

To fertility

The birth rate is currently rising slightly in Germany, but significantly fewer children are being born than in the past. According to statistics, the average number of children would have to be 2.1 for the population to remain constant. However, it is currently around 1.5 children per woman. As a result, the average age of the population is increasing. The reason for the falling birth rate is neither of the two usual reasons; There is neither an economic shortage nor a war in which Germany would be affected.

Rather, social change is also a change in values: Today, children no longer have the high "economic value" they had in the centuries before. Furthermore, changing professional requirements make it difficult for young women in particular to reconcile family and work.

Family policy measures that try to increase the number of children per woman back to at least two can only very slowly counteract the current development. Incentives such as parental allowance, for example, have only been able to bring about a very slow increase in fertility. Because even after its introduction in January 2017, the birth rate rose only moderately.

On mortality

It is not just the low birth rate that is causing demographic aging, i.e. the growing proportion of older people in Germany. Life expectancy, which increases continuously and brings with it a decrease in mortality, also makes a society get older on average. This is ensured by different points, at least in Germany, but also in most other European countries:

  • better health care
  • continuous medical progress and the associated decline in certain diseases
  • more precise knowledge about the cause of various clinical pictures
  • better provision
  • decreasing stress from hard work, famine or war

While the life expectancy of a newborn was less than 40 years at the end of the 19th century, for the reasons mentioned above it is currently almost 83 years for women and 78 years for men. The number of those who live to be over 100 years old is also growing steadily.
Demographics experts primarily assess the aging of society by looking at the proportion of people over 60, those over 80, and people who live to be over 100 years old. At the beginning of the 20th century, the proportion of people over 60 was just under eight percent of the total population. By 2030, however, it will be over a third of the population. With a view to this development, it is important to adequately prepare for the challenges of the aging population in order to gradually meet them.

Challenges of an aging population

Two groups are dependent on the so-called transfer payments of the working population due to their lack of or at least inadequate and low ability to finance their own living: small children and young people as well as very old people.

The second group in particular is growing steadily, so that covering the life needs of this group, i.e. the existential needs such as clothing, food, health and housing, will become an increasingly important task in the future. In addition, the standard of living acquired should normally be maintained in old age. If all the needs of the elderly population with limited ability to work can no longer be satisfied, the well-known supply gap will arise. Depending on the severity, it is viewed as a burden for the entire cohesion of the population and can sometimes lead to a demographic catastrophe.

Measures to avoid poverty in old age

In order to permanently avoid the feared supply gap in the future, various solutions are discussed and tried out. In general, means to improve the age structure are, of course, an attempt to increase the number of transferable service providers. Specifically, this means increasing the birth rate, pursuing a more open and committed immigration policy and, among other things, increasing the productivity of the economy by promoting technical progress.

Furthermore, individual measures are intended to help secure the needs of the country's elders:

  • For example, financial measures are discussed, such as state subsidies for day-care centers, which can provide greater incentives and relief for couples interested in children but financially or professionally restricted.
  • Childcare in general could be promoted through depreciation models under family policy.
  • A higher child benefit is being discussed.
  • Coercive mechanisms such as linking the amount of pensions to the number of children raised could be introduced.
  • With the promotion of reproductive medicine, the unwanted childlessness should be further counteracted.
  • A general influence on attitudes towards starting a family and having at least two children could take place in schools and the media. Such cultural measures are, however, particularly controversial.
  • Further measures include a policy that reduces unemployment and the fear of it, an immigration policy that focuses primarily on younger, efficient and able-bodied immigrants, as well as the right to vote for children, who are eligible up to their legal age Parents is exercised.

With changes in the financing system, which affect the generation contract with regard to the tax burden of the service providers or the standard of living of the service recipients, the supply gap should be further prevented. Specific individual measures include reducing the maintenance obligation and increasing the state's share in the maintenance of the offspring. In addition, new forms of unconditional social transfers, such as wealth tax or citizen benefits, could help. Raising the retirement age and Europeanisation of social costs are also up for discussion.

Everyday challenges

However, the aging of society also brings with it extensive challenges that affect our everyday lives. Seniors have completely different needs, for which our environment has so far been insufficiently prepared. There is an urgent need for action, particularly in the area of ​​mobility or health care and nursing.

Practical measures that make it easier for older people to move around or to complete certain everyday tasks and needs are intended to make the environment in which they move generally more age-friendly. An important task here is the dissemination and implementation of a suitable living environment from the start, which should also eliminate the burden of the costs of modernization measures.

In the best case scenario, living spaces are designed to be age-appropriate and barrier-free right from the start by avoiding tripping hazards or by providing enough seating everywhere. In addition, it makes sense to make sure that doors and door frames are wide enough so that wheelchair users or walkers can also fit through. Corresponding details must also be taken into account in the various rooms, such as the option of installing a mirror at a lower height in the bathroom, which wheelchair users can also look at. The federal government supports corresponding measures with various funding programs. However, it is up to the citizens themselves to deal with this issue at an early stage and to make provisions for themselves.

The political extremes

The political situation of society is also getting more and more acute at its fringes: Some citizens do not like the demographic development of Germany, the inevitable change and the growing mix of the country cause panic and helplessness among strongly patriotic thinkers. The consequences of this are often not a discussion of the matter, but publicly expressed fascism or even politically motivated violence and crimes.

Up until the incidents at the G20 summit in 2017, the focus was primarily on these acts of the right. Even if the crimes in the area of ​​bodily harm still predominate by right-wing extremists, for some time now, left-wing violence has also moved back into the focus of politics and the public

In 2016, extremist crime had already reached its highest level in 15 years. With 41,549 crimes, the police registered the most crimes since 2001, when the federal and state interior ministers introduced the police reporting system "Politically motivated crime (PMK)". Most of the politically motivated crimes were committed by neo-Nazis and other rights: more than 23,500 crimes, including nearly 1,700 violent crimes. The police classify a large part of these crimes as “hate crime”, which also includes racist attacks on migrants.

The racist attacks, which are also referred to as “xenophobic crimes”, rose by 5.5 percent from the previous year and could continue due to the growing popularity of right-wing parties and the arrival of the AfD in the Bundestag and thus the official confirmation of their convictions for many people increase. It is to be expected that attacks on asylum shelters will tend to decline, as statistics confirm.

There was a significant decrease of 24.2 percent in left-wing violent crimes from 2015 to 2016. Since the riot in Hamburg during the G20 summit on July 7th and 8th, however, left-wing extremism has been discussed again nationwide. Since the terror of the RAF, there has hardly been so much attention to the autonomous and other militant left. It is still not clear who exactly was the driving force behind the violent left-wing extremists in Hamburg.
The black bloc, made up of nearly 2,000 autonomous and anti-imperialists, followed by around 8,000 protesters, could have been one of the foci of violence. However, the investigations also focused on the “riot tourists”, ie those who traveled from surrounding European countries prepared to use violence, and whose actual political motivation has not been proven. The question is whether they acted simply because of the violence or out of real militant, left-wing extremist convictions.

Left and right radicalism

Left-wing, and especially right-wing radicalism is of course not only taking place among the citizens, but also very publicly in politics. Where extreme left views, which could be interpreted as radical, tend to keep within bounds, the right wing in the AfD finds a corresponding mouthpiece.

The AfD as the third strongest force with double-digit election results in the Bundestag is a symbol of the drifting apart of political views. Other conservative and slightly right-wing parties tend to be confronted with an unfamiliar political radicalism and sometimes have to find a new way of dealing with it. Since no one knows exactly how strong the AfD's popularity will be, it is difficult to make any predictions about its strength in German politics.

Islamism

For some time now, many of the citizens who are turned towards the AfD have been concerned about the possibility of a “creeping Islamization of the West”, about a decline in German values, about a change in the country towards a Muslim state. Some of the allegations, rumors and alleged evidence circulating on the Internet in particular have simply not been proven and fall under the category of systematic spreading of fear.

It works wonderfully because the fears in the population are real and, in a certain way, natural. But they should be treated differently. A spectrum of different scenarios, i.e. if-then-assumptions, could develop in a serious direction and correspond to scientifically justifiable diagnoses. The makers of the panic tweets and videos, on the other hand, neither pay attention to the birth rate in Germany nor the life expectancy of people, but instead focus exclusively on immigration. The reaction could then be an increase in left-wing extremists and active citizens and possibly also smaller parties.

Conclusion

Society is in a state of upheaval. Germany is getting older and more diverse. Each individual and the state must deal professionally and sustainably with the new tasks that arise from these circumstances in order to create a just livelihood for all members of the country. Instead of reacting to the upheavals of the future with fear or even hatred and thus provoking misfortune and violence, it is important to work together on solutions. The strength and support of extreme parties and movements will continue to pose a challenge to politics and show how strong the cohesion of opposing positions is.

October 26, 2017

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