Italy has been a real demographic bomb for several years. And the Covid-19 pandemic has not helped. From next July, the government will grant a monthly bonus of 250 euros per child to encourage the population to procreate.
In November 2018, a report published in The Lancet sounded the alarm: since 1950, the birth rate worldwide has fallen from 4.7 to 2.4 per woman. And this is not without consequences.
Concretely, current trends point to a future with very few children and many people over 65. In other words, a future with fewer and fewer young people and working people and more and more retirees. Such a structure would then place a particularly heavy burden on the economy of the countries concerned, and ultimately pose the problem of paying pensions.
Several reasons for this decline
For the researchers behind the report, one in two countries in the world would not give birth to the number of children sufficient to maintain the population. Some are more “affected” than others, like the United States, China, Bulgaria, Latvia, Spain, Italy, or even South Korea and from Japan.
There are many reasons for these trends. Financial stability for some, late pregnancies for others, not to mention the impoverishment of sperm in general.
We also note the consequences of emigration which tend to upset these figures. The Bulgarian population, which sees its citizens fleeing seeking employment opportunities elsewhere, is indeed shrinking faster than any other nation in the world. It may soon become as weak as it was after World War II.
There are still some positive signs to these results. A drop in the birth rate can in fact be explained by better access to different means of contraception or to employment for women, which was much more complicated in 1950.
A premium in Italy
There is always that, “If nothing happens, we will observe an inevitable decline of these populations”, then warned Christopher Murray, main author of the report of The Lancet. This is why Italy, very bereaved by the Covid-19, is reacting.
If the number of immigrants in the country tends to increase and the number of Italians leaving the country to decrease, neither of these trends seems indeed to “solve” the demographic problems of the country. Many Italians would like to have more children, but difficulties in finding a job encourage decisions not to do so.
Result, we record approximately 400,000 births per year, which represents a little more than one child per woman, against nearly two in France. As said above, this is not enough. From next July, a bonus of 250 euros per month will therefore be offered to parents from the 7th month of pregnancy until the 21 years of each child. Objective: revive the birth rate.
For its part, China is also trying to prevent a future demographic crisis by proposing to shorten the duration of studies. The idea would be to allow young Chinese women to access the labor market more quickly, and in fact, to acquire more quickly financial ease allowing them to calmly consider having children.