Italy’s population is set to decline by almost a fifth over the next five decades as a result of a steadily falling birthrate, the country’s statistics agency ISTAT said on Thursday.
A shrinking and ageing population is a major worry for the euro zone’s third-largest country. Among other things, it is linked to falling productivity and higher welfare bills.
According to a baseline scenario, Italy’s inhabitants will shrink from 59.2 million in 2021 to 54.2 million in 2050 and 47.7 million in 2070, a statement said.
Meanwhile, Italians aged 65 or over will account for 34.9% of the population in 2050, jumping from 23.5% in 2021, while the average age will rise to 50.6 from 45.9 over the same period.
ISTAT acknowledged that long-term demographic forecasts were subject to “deep uncertainty”, but said it was “almost certain” that Italy’s population would decrease.
In a worst case scenario, the population loss by 2070 could be as high as 18 million people, ISTAT said, although under the best circumstances it forecast a drop of just 4.2 million.
The agency noted that Italy has been facing negative demographic trends for about 15 years, only partially mitigated by immigration.
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ISTAT reported 399,431 births in 2021, down from 404,892 in 2020, the lowest figure since the country was unified in 1861. Deaths last year totalled 709,035.
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