Tuesday, April 25, 2006

And in Italy ...

Italy's ANSA news agency reports on the country's continuing demographic changes.

Concerns over Italy's ageing population were fuelled on Monday by the release of a report showing that the country's grey army has swelled to some 11.5 million, or almost 20% of the population.

The report by national statistics bureau Istat said that a record 19.5% of Italians are now 65 or over, making Italy one of the world's 'greyest' societies.

It warned that unless the trend changed, the figure was likely to hit 34% by 2050.

Under-18s account for just 17.1% of the population compared to 18.4% in 1995, Istat said, projecting a fall to 15.4% by 2050 if current trends continue.

It stressed that Italy, which has a population of 58 million, could soon find itself with one in every four people over 65 and only one in every eight under 18.

On a brighter note, Istat highlighted a surge in the birth rate after years of decline.

It said the average number of births per female was now 1.34, well below the replacement level of 2.2 for a stable population but nonetheless the highest rate in Italy in 15 years.

In 1995, the country's fertility rate sank to a record low of 1.19. At one time, Italy had the highest birth rate in Western Europe and in 1970, Italian women had an average 2.5 children each. Istat noted that births were picking up in northern and central Italy in particular. In the north, the fertility rate rose from 1.05 in 1995 to 1.34 in 2005 and in central regions from 1.07 to 1.29.

In the south of Italy, the fertility rate fell from 1.41 to 1.35 over the same period and the regions that currently show the lowest rates of all are Sardinia (1.07), and Molise and Basilicata (1.14).

The report also revealed that the region with the highest life expectancy rate was Marche in the central Adriatic area, where women can expect to live until 84.7 and men until 78.8.

Campania around Naples in the south was the region with the lowest life expectancy rate, put at 81.8 for women and 76.1 for men.

The convergence of the three regions of Italy--North, Center, and South--towards similar fertility rates is perhaps the most noteworthy new fact reported here. The Italian South once was notable for its relatively higher fertility rates, not only in an Italian context but in a world context. No longer.

1 comment:

Scott said...

Unfortunately for Italy the reported "surge" is not going to be enough to make a difference in the demographic future of the country. In my view, this "surge" is an anomaly of some sort, such as a large batch of defective condoms being shipped into the country that went undetected.

Clearly, the prospect of an aging and declining population hasn't galvanized Italian couples of child-bearing age into any radical changes in their views on children.

The convergence between regions in Italy in terms of the fertility rate is highly likely to be correlated with increased access of southern Italians to modern media which portray values and lifestyles at variance with those of traditional Catholicism and village life.