In recent years, the alarm about declining birth rates has become increasingly urgent in Italy, with the birth rate reaching record levels. Therefore, along with many mothers and fathers who were tired of experiencing and commenting on the data from ISTAT – which each year became an increasingly dire report – we established the Fondazione per la Natalità, with the goal of keeping attention focused on the demographic alarm and raising awareness among the public and the ruling class about how important it is to find solutions together to escape the so-called demographic trap.
Last year, we lost a city like Bari. To be precise, 301,901 Italians. Yes, that's right: because in 2022, 713,499 people died, but only 392,598 were born. An absolute record. Never have so few children been born in Italy since its unification! Three years ago, in an even more deafening silence, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the birth-to-death ratio was about 350,000. We had lost a city like Florence.
Today, 90,986 births registered between January and March 2023 are already a strong alarm bell. In the same period of 2022, there were 91,658 newborns.
The most serious consequence of this analysis is that the population decline will also have significant repercussions on the economic landscape. The most immediate effect of the plummeting birth rate will be a contraction in GDP. Currently, there are approximately 36 million active workers in the national territory, aged between 20 and 66 years: extrapolating ten years into the future, estimates suggest that by 2032 this number will have decreased by over 2 million individuals. These are stark numbers that foreshadow a bleak future.
The issue of declining birth rates is particularly relevant when viewed from a youth perspective. The younger generations represent the future of the country, but an increasing number of young people are giving up on the prospect of starting a family. The causes of this phenomenon are multiple: job insecurity, economic difficulties, uncertainties about the future, and constantly evolving social expectations. Young people often face significant obstacles in achieving financial and occupational stability, which are essential prerequisites for embarking on a family path. Furthermore, challenges in balancing work and family life, along with pressure to pursue a career, often relegate the desire to have children to a secondary position. This scenario raises concerns about future implications for society, as low youth birth rates can lead to a reduction in the workforce, compromise the sustainability of the pension system, and deprive the country of a new generation of active and creative citizens. Addressing the issue of declining birth rates from a youth perspective requires policies and measures aimed at ensuring greater economic and occupational stability, as well as creating a supportive environment for work-life balance.
The "Stati Generali della Natalità" (States General on Natality), now in their third edition, represent a unique opportunity to thoroughly address the issue of declining birth rates by involving experts, academics, professionals, government representatives, and prominent figures in the Italian landscape. The main objective is to generate constructive debate on the policies and strategies necessary to reverse the demographic trend.
The third edition of the "Stati Generali della Natalità," held on May 11th and 12th in Rome at the Auditorium della Conciliazione, was particularly significant due to the presence of two distinguished guests: Pope Francis, who emphasized the importance of the family as the foundation of society and called for greater attention to the needs of families and parents, offering concrete support and appropriate family policies; and the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, who highlighted how reversing the demographic trend is a priority for our country's system.
The presence of Pope Francis and Giorgia Meloni at the "Stati Generali della Natalità" made it clear how important and urgent it is to address the demographic crisis that Italy is experiencing. The participation of such influential and authoritative figures further highlighted the event, capturing the attention of the public and demonstrating the commitment of institutions and the Catholic Church to finding concrete solutions.
Various representatives from different sectors of the country took part in panels, allowing for constructive dialogue and the sharing of knowledge and experiences. This multicultural approach is essential to address the complex issue of declining birth rates, which requires a 360-degree view and integrated solutions.
Once again, the importance of a joint and coordinated response from institutions, organizations, and society as a whole was emphasized. Only through a collective effort will it be possible to reverse the trend and build a sustainable future for the country, where families and natality are properly valued and supported.
There is a need for collective awareness. And we must always remind ourselves that the birth of a child is not only related to GDP and the future healthcare system, taxes, and the sustainability of the country, but above all to the beauty of a choice driven by love.
There is no doubt that natality is the new social issue because if we don't intervene now, everything will collapse. And it is a universal social issue that concerns everyone: each of us is "called" to play our part because the future is at stake.
Therefore, the goal must be to turn this issue into one that unites the entire country. Without majorities or opposition. It should be a cross-cutting theme, a topic on which we come together as a team. Because we know that Italy performs at its best when it works together. When, with our backs against the wall, we manage to move beyond local interests and ideologies. We are acquainted with the analyses, the numbers have become widely recognized. It is now the moment for consolidation.