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Italian birth rate in decline for 15th straight year

italian baby eating pasta

Tomsickova Tatyana | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 04/03/24

Italy saw almost twice as many deaths as births in 2023, with an aging population that is expected to fall by 10% by 2050.

The birth rate in Italy continued to decline in 2022, new data from the national statistics bureau ISTAT shows. Last year, Italy saw its lowest birth rate since it was unified in 1861, marking 15 years since the nation saw any growth, back in 2008. 

According to the data, provided by Reuters, Italy saw 379,000 births in 2023, which represents a 3.6% decline from the previous year. Fewer Italian women overall are having children, as shown by the standing fertility rate of 1.2 children per woman, down from 1.24 in 2022. It should be noted that the required birth rate to sustain a population is 2.1 children per woman.

The unsustainable Italian birth rate is more clearly illustrated when placed next to the total number of Italian deaths in 2022, 661,000. With nearly twice as many deaths in 2022 as there were births, the report noted that this figure was lower than during COVID years which boosted the mortality rate. For similar reasons, the Italian life expectancy has risen to around 83 years. 

Despite the continuance of these long-standing downward trends, the total population of Italy remained largely the same, only falling by 7,000 in 2022. Immigrants and returning emigres entered the country en masse, making up for the 282,000 gap between Italian births and deaths. Immigrants are estimated to account for nearly 9% of the Italian population.

Be that as it may, a decade of consecutive losses has led to an estimated 1.36 million reduction in the Italian population since 2014. Reuters compares this figure to the population of Milan, noting that Italy has lost about the population of its second largest city in the last 10 years. 

Nothing is expected to change for the better in regard to Italy’s population, where nearly 25% are aged 65 and over. If the country remains on the same course it is now, it is expected to lose up to 10% of its population in the next quarter-century.

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