The new data released by Italy’s National Institute for Statistics for 2016 sounds again like a death knell. There has been a new negative record of births: 474,000 compared to 486,000 for 2015, which had already fallen to historic lows. There were 608,000 deaths in 2016. In one year, Italy lost 134,000 people — the equivalent of a city of the size of Ferrara or Salerno.
The demographic “illusion” is kept only by the influx of immigration (135,000). If one needs an idea of what Italy would be without immigrants, look at Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s most populated and affluent regions: in 2035 it will have 20% fewer residents.
Italy is sometimes thought of Europe’s guinea pig: wherever Italy goes, much of Europe follows it, especially in the central and southern countries. In 1995, Antonio Golini, a professor at La Sapienza University and a former president of the National Institute of Statistics, was contacted by the director-general of Plasmon, Italy’s largest producer of baby food. Looking at the declining birth rates, the firm asked him if something could be done to prevent the company from going out of business. Plasmon started to make dietary products for adults.