Italy is older than ever as birthrate falls to all-time low

The Local Italy
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Italy is older than ever as birthrate falls to all-time low
Nearly 23 percent of Italy's population is over 65. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

Italy's population is older than ever after another drop in the number of babies born here last year.


Some 464,000 babies were born in Italy in 2017, according to the latest figures from national statistics bureau Istat. That was 9,000 below the 2016 total, which was already 12,000 fewer than the year before that.

The trend stretches back further: over the past ten years, births have fallen by 100,000.

The declining birthrate, combined with longer life expectancy, has left Italy with a significantly older population. By the start of of 2018, for the first time ever the mean age of Italy's residents was over 45 years old. Nearly 60 percent of them were 40 or older; nearly 23 percent were over 65. In contrast, only 27 percent were aged 15-39, and around 13 percent were 14 or younger.

Deaths also increased in 2017, leaving Italy with fewer people: just under 60.5 million by the end of last year, around 100,000 fewer than at the start.

Even an increase in the number of foreign nationals arriving in Italy (up 12 percent) and a decrease in the number of Italians leaving (down around 3 percent) couldn't stop the overall decline. 

Only four of Italy's 20 regions experienced any population growth: in order, Trentino-South Tyrol, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio. The regions with the most severe decline were Sicily, Basilicata and Molise. 

Istat expects Italy's total population to fall by 7 million over the next 50 years, the drop eventually reaching even the prosperous centre-north. According to a 2017 estimate, the number of people living in Italy will drop to 58.6 million over the next 30 years, and to 53.7 million by 2065.


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