GIOVENTU » Italy's birth rate continues to fall and sets a new record low

Italy's birth rate continues to fall and sets a new record low

The number of babies born in Italy continues to drop and Italy's birth rate has hit another negative record. According to the latest figures from the national statistics bureau, Istat, 464,000 babies were born in Italy in 2017, down by 2% on 2016. This means 9,000 below the 2016 total, which was already 12,000 fewer than the year before that, marking the lowest birth rate since Italy’s unification in 1861. Taking into account the past 10 years, the situation is even more worrying as births have fallen by 100,000.

As a consequence, Italy has an older population. By the beginning of 2018 the mean age of Italy's residents was over 45 years old, marking the first time this has ever occurred. About 60% were 40 or older and nearly 23% were over 65. By contrast, only 27% were aged 15-39 and around 13% were 14 or younger. Meanwhile, the trend to have children at a later age was confirmed: the mean age at childbearing had grown to 31.8 years. However, births in Italy from a foreign mother have also decreased: 90 thousand, 3.6% less than the previous year.

A significant part of the population died in 2017, decreasing the Italian population by 100,000 people. At the end of last year, the Italian population accounted for 60.5 million.

The overall decline wasn’t even counterbalanced by the number of foreigners arriving in the country which increased by 12 percent, while the number of Italians emigrating abroad decreased by 3 percent. 

The population increased in the richest areas offering more job opportunities. The most prolific area, in terms of childbirth, was the province of Bolzano. The Population grew only in Trentino-South Tyrol, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio while the regions with the most severe decline were Sicily, Basilicata and Molise. 

The future is not going to look any brighter, as according to Istat, the Italian population is going to fall by 7 million over the next 50 years.   

In 2017, the difference between births and deaths was – 183,000. The deaths were 647 thousand, 31 thousand more than in 2016 (+ 5.1%) and only a thousand less than in 2015, the year in which more deaths were recorded since the end of the Second World War. According to Istat demographic indicators, the life expectancy of Italians at birth, equals to 80.6 years for men, as in 2016, and 84.9 years for women, compared to 85 years in 2016. The gender gap reduced in 2017 to only 4.3 years, due to males’ increased life expectancy. This is the lowest gap found since the mid-1950s.

Giulia Lombardo

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