Italy has the lowest birth rate in the EU: report

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Italy had the lowest birth rate in the EU in 2015. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP
14:58 CEST+02:00
Italy had the lowest rate of births in the EU last year, with just eight babies born for every 1,000 residents, according to figures published by Eurostat on Friday.

The country’s birth rate has more halved since the ‘baby boom’ of the 1960s, with the number of births falling to 485,000 in 2015 – fewer than in any other years since the modern state was formed in 1861.

Across the EU, there were nearly 5.1 million births last year - 40,000 fewer than in 2014, Eurostat said.

Slightly ahead of Italy was Greece, where there were 8.5 birth for every 1,000 residents, and Portugal (8.3).

The highest rates were registered in Ireland (14.2), France (12), the UK (11.9) and Sweden (11.7).

Italy has introduced some measures to try and stimulate the birth rate, such as introducing an €80-a-month ‘baby bonus’ for low-and-medium income families in 2014, but there is no sign of a reversal in the decline.

In May, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin pledged to double that amount in a bid to stave off what she described as a “catastrophic” fall in the country’s birth rate, as well as introduce higher payments for second and subsequent children.

“If we carry on as we are and fail to reverse the trend, there will be fewer than 350,000 births a year in 10 years’ time, 40 percent less than in 2010 — an apocalypse,” the minister said.

“In five years we have lost more than 66,000 births (per year) — that is the equivalent of a city the size of Siena,” the minister added. “If we link this to the increasing number of old and chronically ill people, we have a picture of a moribund country.”

Read more: Why Italy is facing a birth rate apocalypse

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Meanwhile, there were 5.2 million deaths recorded across the EU in 2015, meaning the region registered a negative natural change of its population for the first time ever, according to Eurostat. Some 647.6 million of those deaths were recorded in Italy.

The most populous countries are Germany, with 82.2 million residents, followed by France (66.7 million), the UK (65.3 million) and Italy (60.7 million).

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