June 23. 2024. 12:40

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Italy prepares measures to face declining birth rates

Prime Minister Georgia Meloni’s government is preparing new measures to increase birthrates despite deaths exceeding the number of births which have have hit a new all-time low.

According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (Istat), as of 1 January 2023, there are about 58 million Italian residents, representing a 3% decrease compared to the previous year. In 2021, the trend was -3.5% and -6.7% in 2020, mainly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The population decline is particularly pronounced in the south of the country (-6.3%).

The causes can be traced to an excess of deaths (713,000) over births (393,000) not offset by migration movements with foreign countries, Istat explains.

People over 65 account for 24.1% of the total population, and there are 22,000 over 100-year-olds, while the population of foreign citizens stands at about five million (+3.9% compared to 2022), residing mainly in the north.

For the first time since the unification of Italy, births in 2022 fell below the 400,000 mark to 393,000.

These numbers are partly due to spontaneous or induced avoidance of having children and partly due to the ageing of the female population of childbearing age and the real decrease in reproductive levels.

Musk shines a spotlight on the ‘boot’

In response to a tweet by young computer analyst Andrea Stroppa, where he commented on Istat data, Twitter CEO Elon Musk wrote: “Italy is disappearing!”

“He often makes remarks about the de-natality in Italy. He cares a lot about our country (…) He drew a parallel with the Roman Empire, saying that one of the factors that contributed to the disappearance of the Empire was precisely the collapse of the birth rate”, Stroppa said in an interview with Corriere della Sera.

As early as 2022, the Twitter CEO tweeted about the issue, eliciting a response from the not-yet-prime minister Giorgia Meloni: “Fratelli d’Italia (FDI/ECR) has always proposed a plan to support motherhood and the birth rate. If we continue in this way we will have a society without children, which will collapse,” he said.

“It is good that a visible person like Elon Musk is talking about it, but it is discouraging that it took an intervention by him to draw the media to the issue”, the prime minister at the time wrote.

Meloni government at work

After the general elections in September 2022, Meloni became prime minister and created an ad hoc ministry to address the natality issue.

Family, Natality and Equal Opportunities Minister Eugenia Roccella commented on Istat data assuring that combating the demographic emergency is a top government priority.

“We started dealing with it from day one and will continue to do so with determination”, the minister said.

“In addition to the specific actions put in place by my ministry, the birth rate is and will be a guiding criterion of policies in all sectors and of the entire executive”, she added.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)