The Italians, in danger of extinction

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The government emerging from the elections must find solutions to the massive population decline in the country, which will lose five million inhabitants by 2050

The Italians are in danger of extinction. The low birth rate, along with an aging population and lower ability to attract immigrants compared to other European countries, will lead Italy to reduce its population by 5 million by 2050. So it will go from just over 59 million today to 54 million by mid-century 2050, which official forecasts say could drop to 47 million by 2070 if current trends continue. The damaging economic and social effects of this population reduction, which experts have suspected for years but which have been accelerated by the pandemic, have led to an accumulation of voices from key personalities warning of the demographic debacle that seems to be waiting for Italy.

The laments of the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and Pope Francis, who had already repeatedly spoken out about this problem, were recently joined by even Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX. Commenting on social networks about the decline in the birth rate recorded since the 1960s in Italy, where there were 400,000 births last year, a figure not seen since World War II, Musk stated that the country “will be without people.” If this trend continues, the American billionaire believed that, although it’s barely talked about, “the biggest problem the world will face in twenty years’ time is population collapse.”

In its post-pandemic economic reactivation plan, worth €221.5 billion, largely funded by the European Union, the outgoing government of Mario Draghi has included several aid and tax exemptions to encourage young families to have children. The parties running for the general election next Sunday have also made similar promises, although they have relegated this topic to one of the campaign’s secondary themes. The measures seem insufficient in a country where raising a child up to the age of 18 costs an average of 175,000 euros, according to forecasts by the association Federconsumatori. It is a real fortune for the young generations, burdened by unemployment, job insecurity and low wages. Unlike other European countries like France or Germany, the measures to reconcile parenting with work are laughable, so Italian families are forced to rely on grandparents, if they have one and live nearby, to help them with the little ones .

“There is a very strong desire for motherhood that cannot be satisfied. Couples would like to have two children, but we are stuck with 1.25 children per woman because the context doesn’t allow it,” explains Marco Marsili, an expert at the Italian Statistical Institute (Istat). “Something happens with motherhood. similar to what happens with investors: they invest when they have good prospects, but when there is a general picture of uncertainty, they either don’t do it or delay the decision. It’s the same with couples.”

Under the effects of the demographic collapse, this researcher highlights the impact that GDP will suffer. For years, this indicator has fallen more sharply in Italy than in other European countries in economic recession phases, while growing more weakly in times of general expansion. “For a shrinking population, it is almost impossible to maintain the same level of GDP. An increase in productivity per capita would be needed to counteract the decline in population,” Marsili said. Looking ahead to 2050, aging will be another serious problem, as the workforce will not make up more than 50% of the total, compared to two-thirds today. The ratio between the over-65s and under the age of 14 will also be 3 to 1.

Despite these bad omens, the Istat expert refuses to speak of a “demographic bomb” and asks that the “necessary conditions” be created to adapt to the new situation. “You have to prepare. First, we need to make it easier for young people to have children. They are the future,” he says. It also advocates doubling the number of immigrants arriving in Italy each year and promoting their social and labor integration, always bearing in mind that both this variable and a possible increase of the birth rate would only partially weaken an unstoppable trend.

“Italy is demographically a pioneer country due to its high life expectancy, low birth rate, discreet immigration and the aging population. Spain is in a similar situation and other countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom will soon follow in its footsteps,” said Marsili, who believes his country is at the forefront of the demographic trends that dominate the planet today. “The United Nations no longer foresee that the world’s population will continue to grow exponentially, as we knew until now, we are beginning to glimpse a scenario where by 2100 the world’s population will begin to decline.

The leader of the far-right Brothers of Italy party, Giorgia Meloni, this Sunday defended opening a debate on the issue of national sovereignty at the European level, albeit without necessarily leaving the EU.

“The issue of sovereignty is a debate that we must have without having to say that we are leaving the European Union. The topic is relevant. It is not a question of enmity with Europe, but of better organizing the defense of the national interest against Europe,” Meloni said in an interview with the Rai 3 network.

“Because we see the price of gas skyrocket while other countries defend their national interests,” Meloni said, referring to the rise in the price of Russian gas, according to the Italian press.

Source: La Verdad

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