Italy's population may shrink by 11 million people within 50 years, study shows

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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.

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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.

Italy may see a smaller population in the next 50 years, statistic agency ISTAT said. Pictured: A crowd in front of the Trevi Fountain square in Rome, Italy, on June 3, 2022.

Italy may see a smaller population in the next 50 years, statistic agency ISTAT said. Pictured: A crowd in front of the Trevi Fountain square in Rome, Italy, on June 3, 2022.
(Andrea Ronchini/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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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