From the country that started an “Adopt-a-Grandparent” program because they have so few kids, you’d think this would get more attention.
The Italians aren’t having kids.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella said the country’s future is threatened by its diminishing birthrate after new data showed the population shrank yet again in 2019.
Their falling birth rates and rising life expectancy mean a growing group of retirees with fewer workers to support them, which leads to a chronically stagnant economy.
National statistics agency ISTAT said there were 435,000 births last year, down 5,000 on 2018 and the lowest level ever recorded in Italy. Deaths totaled 647,000 in 2019, some 14,000 more than the year earlier. On net, teh country had 116,000 fewer people in 2019 than in 2018. Migrant and immigrant births partially offset the falling birth rate among the domestic population.
Mattarella, 78, said:
“This is a problem that concerns the very existence of our country. The fabric of our country is weakening and everything must be done to counter this phenomenon. As an old person I am well aware of the falling birth rate.”
Italy’s not alone. Among developed nations, Japan leads the way in self destruction through falling birth rates. The country posted the lowest number of births on record last year, reaching all the way back to the late 1800s. German births are way off, as are those in Eastern Europe. France and Britain fare better, but they’re still not having enough children to replace their populations.
ISTAT said the gap between births and deaths was getting wider, with just 67 newborns last year for every 100 people who died. Ten years ago there were 96 births for every 100 deaths.
Life expectancy in Italy has continued to push up, hitting 85.3 years for women and 81 years for men — one of the highest rates in Europe — while the average age in Italy is now 45.7.
Successive Italian governments have promised to do more to boost births, but have so far failed to resolve the problem.
They have offered cash incentives to poor families to promote births, but it hasn’t worked. There are few, if any, examples of governments successfully encouraging population growth.