Covid and the atmosphere of fear have caused the birth rate of Italy to fall to the lowest since reunification


With an estimated 400,000 new Italians replacing the 700,000 who died this year, the fate of the fourth-largest economy in Europe looks increasingly grim.

Italy’s birth rate is projected to continue to decline as the demographic crisis is compounded by economic problems and uncertainty induced by the pandemic. Italy recorded 420,000 births in 2019 – the lowest rate since the unification of the country in 1861 – while deaths numbered 647,000. According to the latest projections from Istat, the national statistics agency, the birth rate will drop to around 408,000 this year, while coronavirus deaths would drive the number to more than 700,000. Istat President Gian Carlo Blangiardo said it is “legitimate to assume that the climate of fear and uncertainty and the growing difficulties of a material nature caused by recent events will have a negative impact on the fertility decisions of Italian couples. “Blangiardo said of the total number of deaths expected in 2020, “This is a worrying level, because the last time something like this happened was in 1944, when we were in World War II. ”

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the country is projected to increase from 9.4% this year to 11% in 2021. Women have borne the brunt of the economic effects of the pandemic, as many have lost their jobs or been forced to leave home to care for children who have stopped going to school. Even before the pandemic, there were jobs for less than half of all working-age Italian women.

And many of those who become pregnant leave because, with a shortage of affordable childcare facilities and inflexible working conditions among the key factors, they are unable to balance work and family. “It’s particularly serious in Italy,” says Giorgia Serughetti, a sociologist at Milan-Bicocca University. The problem is compounded by gender disparity and the shortage of employment and childcare services, while the covid has added to intensity and insecurity.

“At a recent meeting of the women’s association in Rome, Serughetti said, the point was raised that women are choosing not to have children as a kind of “silent protest” against the economic and social conditions in which they must live. So many people are losing their jobs now, that’s the reality – so they’re asking themselves, “If I have a baby today, who knows if I’ll have a job tomorrow? President Sergio Mattarella of Italy said earlier this year that the decreasing birth rate of the country is “a problem that concerns our country’s very existence. “As an old man, I am well aware of the declining birth rate,” he added. According to Istat, there is one child for every five people over 65 in Italy. “An ageing population is a problem for the system of the country, not just for the government and for the economy.


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