Italy's birth-rate hits historic low in 2022, population continues to decline

Italy's birth-rate hits historic low in 2022, population continues to decline

Rome - Births in Italy dropped to a new historic low below 400,000 in 2022, ISTAT the country’s national statistics bureau said on Friday, as the population continued to shrink.

The pressing concern was a significant policy pledge made by Giorgia Meloni as she promised to address the issue ahead of her election as Italy's first female prime minister.

The decline in population has been ongoing since 2014, with a total loss of more than 1.36 million people, which is equivalent to the entire population of Milan. The decline in births is attributed to various factors, including the aging and reduction of the female population in the reproductive age group.

Italy recorded 392,600 births in 2022, down from 400,249 the previous year, ISTAT said, the 14th consecutive fall and the lowest number since the country's unification in 1861.

"A major factor is the reduction and the ageing of the female population in the 15-49 age group conventionally considered reproductive," the institute said in a note.

Italy's population decline has slowed somewhat compared to the previous two years, which were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fertility rate decreased to 1.24 children per woman in 2022 from 1.25 the previous year, with a decline in central and northern regions and a slight increase in the south.

Immigration has partially offset the decline, with immigrants exceeding emigrants by 229,000 last year. Italy's aging population is also a concern, with one in four people being above the age of 65, and the number of centenarians having tripled over the last 20 years.

Life expectancy at birth is at 82.6, with central and northern regions having a longer life expectancy than southern regions, and men born in Italy can expect to live to 80 years and six months, and women until almost 85.

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