Italy Is Going Gray

Births last year sunk to lowest level ever recorded


Life Issues

New data from Italy’s national statistics agency (ISTAT) show the country’s population continued to shrink in 2019. ISTAT reports 435,000 births in 2019, down 5,000 from 2018 and the lowest level ever recorded in Italy. Deaths there totaled 647,000 last year.

Reuters quotes the reaction of Italian president Sergio Mattarella. The 78-year-old says, “This is a problem that concerns the very existence of our country. The fabric of our country is weakening and everything must be done to counter this phenomenon” (Feb. 11). Reuters also reports that life expectancy in Italy has continued to rise, hitting 85.3 years for women and 81 years for men — one of the highest rates in Europe.

But of course the birth dearth is Italy’s real problem. Its latest stats on total fertility rate (TFR) stand at 1.32 live births per woman, which is barely above replacement, and the average age of Italian women at birth of first child is 31.1. Such is the fruit – or lack thereof – of widespread birth control use.

The Italian government announced last December that its “baby bonus” monthly payment, previously given only to low-income families, would become available to all families in 2020. Evidence from other European countries suggests such an incentive will fall flat.


A link to the Reuters article:


A link to Eurostat statistics:


Barbara E. Rose is Web Editor of the NOR.

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