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Two twin baby sisters
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Italian birthrate continues to fall

Timothy Jones
November 28, 2016

Few babies were born in Italy last year than in any year since the country was unified in 1861. The birthrate has continued to fall despite government efforts to promote fertility.


Italy saw a total of 485,780 babies born in 2015, down 3.3 percent from the year before, the national Italian statistics institute Istat said on Monday.

The number undercuts a preliminary estimate of 488,000 for the year that was made in February - a figure that was already presented as the lowest since the unification of Italy in 1861.

Istat said the decline stemmed mainly from a drop in the number of children born to Italian parents. The institute attributed this reduction both to a fall in the number of Italian women of reproductive age and their waning inclination to have children. The number of marriages also fell further in 2015, Istat said, which had an added negative impact on the birthrate.

Inside Europe: Difficult birth for 'fertility day' in Italy

Births outside marriage, however, rose slightly, making up 28.7 percent of all children born - a figure that rose to more than 31 percent in central and northern Italy.

The Istat statistics also showed that 9.3 percent of Italian mothers who gave birth were aged 40 or over, surpassing the contingent from the under-25 age group (8.2 percent).

Government campaign

The fertility rate continued its decline of the past years, falling to 1.35 births per woman, compared with 1.46 in 2010. By way of comparison, Germany - which has one of the lowest birthrates in the world - registered a rise in this figure for the first time in 33 years in 2015, with a fertility rate of 1.5 births per woman. A ratio of just over 2 per woman ensures population parity.

Decreases were also noted in births to one or more foreign parents.

Conscious of Italy's downward birth trend, the government launched a Fertility Day campaign in late August, but it faced accusations of being sexist, and was quickly withdrawn.

Many critics of the campaign said that instead of putting pressure on women, it would be better to provide more affordable childcare and tax breaks for prospective parents.


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