Baby girl with a plush toy. Photo by Ivone De Melo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/baby-sleeping-with-animal-plush-toy-2797865/ Italy's birth rate continues to decline.

Italy’s birth rate at record low

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Just over 393,000 children were born in Italy in 2022, representing a 1.7% drop over the previous year and taking Italy’s birth rate to a new record low, ISTAT said on Thursday.

ISTAT, the Italian statistical body, reported today that Italy’s birthrate hit a record low in 2022. The downward trend also seems to be continuing in 2023. According to provisional data, in the first half of the year there was a 1.9% reduction in the birth rate, equal to 3,500 fewer babies born, over the first half of 2022, the national statistics agency said.

ISTAT added the number of births has been falling uninterruptedly for 15 years. It has dropped by 31.8% from the record peak of 576,659 births in 2008 to the present level.

The contribution to the birth rate of the foreign population in Italy also seems to be waning, ISTAT said. The decline in Italy’s birth rate is a concern for businesses, as well as future pension contributions.

Almost half of children born out of wedlock

The statistics agency also said 41.5% of the children born in Italy in 2022, or 163,317, were born out of wedlock. The proportion of children born to unmarried parents has risen by 33 percentage points since the start of the millennium, ISTAT added.

Reversing the decline in the birth rate is a stated top priority for the government of Premier Giorgia Meloni, also an unmarried mother.

In the 2024 budget bill, the State proposes to cover up to €3,000 a year in social-security contributions for working mothers with two children. Provisos are the youngest child is under 10, and those with three children or more, with the youngest up to age 18.

However, despite Meloni’s promise to assist families, other measures in the same package include raising VAT on baby products such as powdered milk and baby food. Quite how the government feels this even balances out the equation, let alone helps families, we wait to hear.

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