The Istat national statistics agency wrote that the data marked “a potential picture of crisis” in its report on Friday, titled “The future of the population – fewer residents, more older people, smaller families.”
Nearly a quarter of Italy’s population is aged 65 or older, at 23.2 percent, and that is expected to grow to 35 percent by 2050, according to Istat’s estimate.
“The age structure of the population already shows a high imbalance in favour of the older generations and there are currently no factors that might suggest a reversal of this trend,” read the report.
“Demographic forecasts show that there is little likelihood of a turnaround in the number of births in the years to come.”
- The real reasons young Italians aren’t having kids
- What does a plummeting birth rate mean for Italy’s future?
Italy’s population is expected to decrease from 59.6 million people in January 2020 to 47.6 million in 2070, it predicted, representing a drop of 20 percent.
Whereas in 2020, the average age of Italians was 45.7, it is expected to rise to 50.7 by 2050, Istat said.
And continuing a trend begun in 2007, in which deaths have surpassed births each year, within less than three decades, deaths are expected to outweigh births by a factor of two, 784,000 against 391,000.
Istat wrote that immigration from abroad to Italy should begin to recover after the Covid-19 pandemic, and beginning in 2023 regain its pre-pandemic average levels at about 280,000 immigrants per year, although that is expected to decrease gradually to 244,000 annually by 2070.
Emigration, which is also expected to recover its pre-pandemic levels, is expected to decrease from 145,000 annual departures in 2025 to 126,000 in 2070.
Last year, the Italian population shrank by almost 400,000 — roughly the size of the city of Florence — as deaths peaked, births bottomed out and immigration slowed down.
In 2012, Italy saw births fall to the lowest level since it became a nation state in 1861, to around 534,000. Since then, new record lows have been established every year.
In 2020, as coronavirus swept the country, the figure fell to 404,000.
How Italy is responding to the population drop
Italy has long counted among one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, and the situation has only been made worse by the coronavirus crisis.
The authorities gave the green light to the measure earlier this month, providing a monthly benefit to those who have children, from the seventh month of pregnancy until the child reaches the age of 21.
- What is Italy doing to increase its plummeting birth rate?
- Italy’s ‘baby bonuses’: What payments are available and how do you claim?
- ‘What it was like being pregnant during the pandemic in Italy’
What a family receives is based on household income, according to the socio-economic indicator the government uses to calculate benefits, known as ISEE.
Approved by Italy’s government cabinet, the Council of Ministers, the single and universal child allowance (L’assegno unico e universale) varies depending on the ISEE and the age of the children, except for disabled children for whom there is no age limit.
It ranges from €175 to €50 per month for each child under 18, while from 18 to 21 years old, the contribution is on a scale from €85 to €25.
The allowance unifies and replaces a series of measures to support families – hence the term ‘unico‘. It’s also called ‘universal’ because it is granted to all families with dependent children resident in Italy.
Families can begin applying for the new benefit from January 1st 2022, although there is currently a temporary ‘bridge allowance’ in place to cover groups of families that have so far been excluded from government family help.
Introduced in July, families can submit an application under the current interim rules for financial assistance until December 31st.
The universal single allowance forms part of the country’s wider strategy, its so-called Family Act, which is intended to help make starting a family in the country a more affordable and realistic prospect.
The benefit can be accessed by anyone who pays taxes in Italy and has been resident in the country for at least two years.
Italian and EU citizens and holders of residence permits for work or research purposes for at least six months are eligible.