Bad Times for Tax Cheats

In the book I reviewed yesterday on tax heavens, one of the reasons the authors gave for writing the book in the first place was that this is a topic that never quite absent from the news and never goes out of fashion. Der Spiegel illustrates how true this is.

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Honor Killings (Again) in Germany

Via Der Spiegel (who has done an incredible job in bringing this issue to light repeatedly):

"Ahmad O. stabbed his sister more than 20 times because the 16-year-old girl didn’t live her life according to his values. Women’s rights advocate Seyran Ates is now calling for German society to intensify its efforts to stop honor killings. "A girl isn’t a whore if she goes out," she says.

Morsal O. was 16, a young girl with joie de vivre. She laughed a lot and she was a go-getter. She was a good student, had ambition and a lot ahead of her in life. But she was murdered on Friday, May 9. Her 23-year-old brother Ahmad, with the help of a cousin, lured her to a parking lot near a subway station in the German port city of Hamburg under a false pretense and stabbed her 20 times with a knife.

If Morsal had known she would be coming face to face with her brother, she probably wouldn’t have gone that evening. The two hadn’t been on talking terms for quite some time, and Ahmed had threatened his sister repeatedly. Just before her murder, Morsal had sought refuge from her family, who moved to Germany from Afghanistan 13 years ago, at a number of city social facilities, most recently living for more than a year in a youth safe house. But she never succeeded in entirely breaking off contact with her family."

But the family thinks that the brother killer her out of love. I guess for some patriarchal communities, love = entitlement to harassment, threats, assault and ultimately murder, and Ahmad had done all of them against his sister. And because Morsal was resistant to her parents’ authority (unusual, for a teenager, I know!), it was her brother’s job to monitor her closely and he outsourced the job to his extended family.

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Depopulation and Gender Imbalance in Former East Germany

From the Guardian, it seems that depopulation (any significant reduction in human population) has become a serious problems for the former East Germany.

“Martin Schiller has a problem familiar to many 17-year-old boys: not enough girls. Schiller’s difficulties, however, are not of his making. Nature has not been kind to him. Not in terms of his looks, but his birthplace. For his home town of Königstein, a cluster of red-roofed traditional buildings tucked in a picturesque bend of the Elbe river beneath a giant 700-year-old castle, has recently been revealed to have the biggest demographic imbalance of anywhere in Europe between young men and women.”

There is definitely a depopulation trend in Europe (especially for rural areas) but it is mostly the women of East Germany that are leaving for the West in large numbers for better job opportunities. It has been estimated that approximately 500,000 women under 30 have left for the west in the past 15 years. More generally, in the face of failing communities, the government is considering ending the subsidies that were poured into East Germany after the reunification. Such an investment simply does not seem to be worth it. So, for some, it is time to tell the inhabitants of these communities to accept stagnation and slow death or adapt and change.

One side effect of such depopulation has been the return of wildlife which enjoys an increase in habitat as houses are demolished and humans leave the area. Lynx are making a comeback.

Such a phenomenon has had multiple consequences, one of which is the rise of the far-right, neo-Nazi party (NPD) in the depopulated parts of Germany. The NPD denies it of course (hey, who wants to be party of losers?), stating “we are not the party of lonely men” (Hahahahahahaha… oh, he was serious). I think they should try recruiting lynx. Nevertheless, the NPD might be popular among downwardly mobile men because its platform emphasizes “traditional gender roles” (translation: when men get to tell women what to do and women have no choice because they are being denied equality at home and in the workplace).

So, why, exactly, are women leaving in larger numbers than men? Several explanations have been suggested:

  • Communist socialization where women were encouraged to seek diverse careers whereas men were pushed towards industrial jobs that are no longer available.

  • The gender bias in schools where most of the staff is composed of women, and therefore the environment is more favorable to women. (oh please)

  • Biology makes women do better in school: they mature earlier and work harder (yeah… to get the hell out of losertown).

  • East German women simply find that Western German men meet their higher expectations better (it all goes back to the rational choice theory combined with the marriage market).

Overall, it seems that there are more incentives for women to climb the social ladder through education AND internal migration. And certainly, the incentives to remain in such communities and marry there are not attractive, especially for educated women. And whereas depopulated communities are trying to attract newcomers through cheap land deals and services, a lack of economic activity, along with a strong neo-Nazi party, might still be a major obstacle to population increase.