Italy's falling birth rate is a crisis that's only getting worse

FILE -Tourists walk in a crowded street in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023.
FILE -Tourists walk in a crowded street in Venice, Italy, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Giorgia Orlandi
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Italian welfare systems are already struggling to cope with the ageing of the population, and there is no consensus on what to do about it.


Italy has long had one of the lowest birth rates in the EU, and the country is ageing at a much faster rate than other member states, and it appears to be getting worse.

According to government statistics, the average number of children per Italian woman has dropped from 1.24 in 2022 to 1.2 in 2023. Experts say that if the country's population crisis continues, Italy’s population of 59 million could fall by almost 1 million by 2030.

And the effects of the crisis are already being felt, with the ageing of the population causing problems for Italy's healthcare and pension systems.

Addressing the crisis is one of the government’s core policies, and a top priority of the parliament's ruling far-right party, the Brothers of Italy. But while the argument over how to solve the population crisis has been politicised for years, many are arguing that a consensus on a solution needs to be found.

The problems with the way the crisis is currently handled were recently on display at a two-day conference held in Rome.

The event offered a chance to discuss what is being described as a cross-party national emergency, but a brief interruption by a group of young activists who attacked the government’s anti-abortion measures showed how politically divisive the subject still is.

Organisers stressed that a private institution was behind the event, not the government.

FILE - Women protest in front of the Italian Senate in Rome, Monday, April 22, 2024.
FILE - Women protest in front of the Italian Senate in Rome, Monday, April 22, 2024.Roberto Monaldo/LaPresse

Gigi De Palo, head of the Foundation for the Birth Rate, insisted the crisis should be treated as apolitical, pointing out that it affects people in many different demographics. 

"This is an issue that concerns everyone and the whole political spectrum, but also all social categories from immigrants to the elderly," he said. 

The general director of the Italian National Institute of Statistics, Sabrina Prati, told Euronews the crisis has been "persistent" for many years.

"Since 2008 until today we have lost around 200,000 newborns," she said. "Two-thirds of them are due to the fact that potential parents are missing. That’s because of the decline in births that dates back to 30 years ago." 

In 2023 alone the government allocated around 1 billion euros for measures aimed at helping women cope with motherhood and work.

But Ardiano Bordingnon, president of the National Forum of Families, believes this is not enough, and that an EU intervention is required. 

"We are talking about a very difficult challenge of historic proportions for the whole Western world," he said. "Ideally, Europe should intervene."

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