The Population Growth of Italy
By Rosario Mariani, http://www.europebychoice.com
Last week China ended the “One-Child” policy put in place in 1970’s to ensure that the fruits of economic growth were not going to be devoured by the out-of-control population explosion. Nevertheless, the population continued to grow and it’s now about to slow down dramatically. The Chinese officials, by decree, have changed their policy to accommodate their economic and demographic policy.
The Europeans, and the Italians in particular, have been facing low birth rates for quite a while now and Italy, along with Germany, is facing the lowest birth rate in Europe. What is worse is Italy’s aging population, which is living longer and receiving generous social security benefits, further straining Italy’s economic resources. In this economic downturn, the up-and-coming generations have been experiencing difficulty in finding work and, when they do eventually find work, their contributions will not be sufficient to sustain the costs for the pensions for the older folks.
The “20something” Italians are very educated these days and they are taking matters into their own hands; many are moving to wealthier countries to make a living, and many more claim they will never repatriate. Indeed, this “brain-drain” will be a huge loss to Italy in the future. Italy needs workers for their manufacturing companies and therefore, their open-door immigration policy is a stop-gap to combat the low chronic birth rate. This approach, if managed correctly and efficiently, will help but it may take one or two generations
before making any noticeable improvements.
Should we encourage Italian couples to have more children? Don’t forget, Italy has lost over 26 million of its citizens to immigration in the past century. Maybe the government should learn from the Chinese and offer tax incentives for young couples to have numerous children, making it affordable to raise larger families.
The last time Italy gave incentives to push for a population growth was during the fascist regime, when it needed to grow the numbers so that it could populate its African colonies. Families with 5 or more children were quite common during the 1930’s. My grandparents and siblings came to America instead of Africa, so that I could have the privilege to live the American Dream! We will see where these next generations take us!
Rosario Mariani is the owner/CEO of Europe By Choice, which promotes travel to Italy and other select European countries. He has more than 40 years of experience in the travel industry, previously serving as Director of Italy Product for Italiatour and Club ABC Tours, and also in other positions with EuroFly, Alitalia and Air France.