Very low birth rates, more and more
elderly people in bambini country
Children have always enjoyed special status in Italy.
They are loved, dressed in the finest of clothes, spoiled
with toys and sweet things. When the family is assembled
in the evening for dinner or out taking a walk
through the neighbourhood, the kids are naturally
always taken along, no matter how late it may be. It is
therefore all the more surprising that today hardly any
children are born in the paradise of bambini. Shortly
after the War, the fertility rate in Italy was 2.3, even
reaching a level of 2.7 in 1964, a figure well above the
replacement level, Italian fertility rates began to plunge
in the 1970s. Having reached a historic low of 1.19 in
1995, in 2006 the figure rose again — thanks mainly to
immigrants from abroad — to 1.35, a figure on the lower
end of the scale by international comparison.35 Although
Italians wish to have an average of 1.9 children, the onechild
family has just about become the rule.
There are, though, substantial differences within the
country: Women in Sardinia have on average no more
than 1.04 children. The Mediterranean island thus ranks
far behind the neighbouring French island of Corsica,
France’s lowest-fertility region, and just above the
lowest-fertility regions in all of Europe, the remote rural
regions of Galicia and Asturia in northwest Spain. But
the fertility rate in Liguria, the Italian coastal region
located around Genoa and bordering on the French Côte
d’Azur, is no higher than 1.17 and thus weighs heavily
on the Italian average. The frontrunner when it comes to
fertility is the economically successful northern autonomous
province of Bolzano, which reports a rate of 1.58.
The next-best figures, though, are reported for structurally
weak regions in Italy’s south: 1.42 in Campania, the
region around the Gulf of Naples, and 1.4 in Sicily.
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