Italy's birth rate plummets to record low since 1861

Published 28.11.2017 13:47

The number of newborn babies in Italy fell to a new low last year, the national statistics office reported Tuesday.

Istat counted 473,438 births in 2016, down 2.5 percent from 2015, when the number of newborns recorded was the lowest since Italy was unified in 1861.

The fall is mainly due to there being "fewer and fewer" Italian women of reproductive age, and "less and less inclined to have children," a statement said.

Statistics showed that the fertility rate fell to 1.34 births per woman that nearly 30 percent of babies were born out of wedlock, and that 21.2 percent had at least one foreign parent.

Istat said there was a correlation between the start of the economic crisis in 2008 and a lower propensity to get married and have children.

It registered an uptick in marriages since 2015, the year that followed the end of a long recession, and said 203,258 couples tied the knot in 2016, a four-year high.

The government has tried to encourage people to have more babies with financial incentives and, last year, a fertility campaign that was quickly dropped after being accused of sexism.

On the weekend, the leader of the ruling Democratic Party and former premier Matteo Renzi promised households a monthly 80-euro (95-dollar) subsidy for every child under the age of 18.

Other parties are likely to respond with other pledges, as they gear up for a general election that is expected to take place in March 2018.

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