Italy is experiencing a severe demographic crisis, with the number of births hitting a new low this year. Preliminary data from the national statistics bureau ISTAT reveals a concerning trend, indicating a continuation of the country’s longstanding population decline.
Declining Birth Rates
- Between January and June of this year, there were 3,500 fewer births compared to the same period in 2022.
- In 2022, the total number of births fell by 1.7% to 393,000.
- This marked the 14th consecutive annual drop, reaching the lowest level since Italy’s unification in 1861.
- Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has allocated approximately 1 billion euros ($1.05 billion) to tackle this crisis.
- The decline in births is attributed partly to the challenges faced by Italian women in balancing work and motherhood, which the government considers a national emergency for the country, the third largest economy in the Eurozone.
- A shrinking and aging population poses significant challenges for Italy. It leads to reduced productivity and increased welfare costs.
- Italy already has the highest state pension bill among the 38 nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Fertility Rate and Immigration
- ISTAT’s report indicates that the fertility rate in 2023 is expected to decrease to 1.22 children per woman from 1.24 in 2022.
- Immigrants contribute to sustaining the fertility rate, whereas among Italian women, the rate remains low at 1.18 in 2022.
Changing Family Dynamics
- The data also reveals that Italian women, on average, have their first child at the age of 31.
- Additionally, 41.5% of babies born last year were to unmarried women, indicating shifting family structures in Italy.