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The birth rate in Italy declined again last year

The birth rate in Italy declined again last year, while the overall population remained almost stable thanks to immigration, the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) said on Friday.

Some 58.9 million people lived in the country, as of Jan. 1, 2024, a net drop of 7,000 people compared to the previous year. This confirms a demographic decline that has been occurring since 2014.

Provisional data showed there were 379,000 babies born last year, and the birth rate was equal to 6.4 babies per 1,000 people, down from 6.7 per thousand in 2022.

Numerically, this amounts to 14,000 fewer newborns (or -4.6 percent) than in 2022, and some 197,000 fewer (or -34.2 percent) than in 2008, when the birth rate first started its declining trend.

As a result, the average number of children born to women in Italy decreased to 1.2 in 2023 from 1.24 in 2022, “approaching the all-time low level of 1.19 children per woman recorded in 1995.”

The phenomenon was equally distributed across the whole territory.

On the contrary, the number of foreign residents grew by 166,000 people (or 3.2 percent) over the previous year to reach a total of 5.3 million. People of foreign origins made some nine percent of the whole population, and this helped limit the demographic decline.

Net migration (the difference between foreigners moving to Italy and Italians moving abroad) was positive at 4.6 per thousand (or +274,000), which marked the highest level since 2011, according to ISTAT.

Another factor helping to limit the decline was the further reduction in the number of deaths (some eight percent less than in 2022) and mortality rate (11.2 per thousand against 12.1 percent in 2022). Life expectancy at birth grew to an average 83.1 years (a six-month increase compared to 2022).

In a recent report published by the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs which analyzed the share of people aged 65 and above in every country, Italy ranked second with 23.7 percent of elderly behind Japan (29.8 percent), but higher than in Finland (22.9 percent), Portugal (22.6 percent), and Greece (22.5 percent). ■

Famagusta Gazette