Italy 'dying' as birth rate hits historic low

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07:26 CET+01:00
Italy registered 509,000 births in 2014, the lowest total since the country's unification in 1870, according to official statistics, prompting a government warning that the country is "dying".

"We are very close to the threshold of non-renewal where the people dying are not replaced by new-borns. That means we are a dying country," Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said.

The number of deaths registered in Italy last year was 597,000 and a net 65,000 Italian citizens left the country. Only a positive balance of immigration (+207,000) enabled the population to expand marginally (0.04 percent to 60.8 million.)

Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in Europe at 1.39 children per woman.

"This situation has enormous implications for every sector: the economy, society, health, pensions, just to give a few examples," Lorenzin said.

"We need a wake-up call and a real change of culture to turn the trend around in the coming years," added the minister.

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Lorenzin is doing her bit personally - the 43-year-old is due to have twins in June.

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