GIOVENTU » Young Italians shunning marriage

Young Italians shunning marriage

As the news agency “Reuters” has recently reported, the rate of marriages in Italy, especially among young people, has dropped to 3.3 per thousand of population, one of the lowest in Europe.

The possible reasons for this are many. First of all the difficult economic situation, the high record unemployment rate, reflected in the new intellectual emigration, which doubled since the pre-crisis level in 2008.  

Italy boasts the most long living population in Europe, but also one of the oldest with one-third of the 60.6 million population over 55, and a medium age of 44.5 years. Now there is also another depressing record, fewer than 514,000 babies were born in Italy in 2013, the lowest data since 1920’. This data makes also Italy one of the countries with the lowest fertility rate in the world. Just 1.39 babies per woman, a sharp decrease if we consider that they were 1.45 in 2008. 

Also the number of weddings has decreased. Last year they were fewer than 200,000, the lowest level since statistics began. In the southern regions of Calabria, Campania and Sicily people continued getting married (4.1 marriages took place last year) but in Emilia-Romagna, one of the wealthiest regions in Europe, just 2.7 marriages per thousand population were recorded.

The majority of the weddings in Italy are still religious services, but between 2008 and 2013 the number of civil ceremonies went up from 36.8 per cent to 43.1 per cent.

There are also now many couples that decide not to have children. Most of them, apart from those couples who never wanted them, have given priority to career and economical wealth, postponing the choice of having children until it is too late. They are not childless (people who couldn’t have children) but childfree. Since the invention of the contraceptive pill and the legalization of abortion, having kinds has become a choice. Italy now holds the record of women without children. Amongst those women borne in 1965, 24% didn’t have children while for example in that same age group only 10% didn’t have children in France.

Also new fears, added to old stereotypes, are preventing fertile women   from having children. It emerged that in Italy 70% of women think that if the mother works this will have a negative impact on the child. In other European countries the same opinion is shared by less than 15%.

Many couples renounce to having children because they fear their failure as parents. In Italian culture children come before everything and they deserve the best of everything, sports, courses, clothes, holidays, and if something goes wrong parents feel as if they have failed. According to experts there is too much expectation on parents making them feel inadequate.

in absolute numbers the number of couples without children in Italy, in the age group between 40 and 49 years, increased by 40% over the last 10 years. If couples without children in the 80s and 90s preferred travelling and consume rather than take care of baby food and nappies, today the scene has changed. Not having children is more and more a sign of pessimism, with no hope for the future, rather than hedonism.  

Giulia Lombardo

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