It's Hard Times Befallen the Sole Survivors

Reporting from Laviano, Italy, Russell Shorto writes:

When Falivena took office in 2002 for his second stint as mayor, two numbers caught his attention. Four: that was how many babies were born in the town the year before. And five: the number of children enrolled in first grade at the school, never mind that the school served two additional communities as well. “I knew what was my first job, to try to save the school,” Falivena told me. “Because a village that does not have a school is a dead village.”

Laviano now pays women 10,000 euros to have babies and live in the town. Although school enrollment is up, the city is still losing population.

It’s a long article, but well worth your time to read the whole thing.