Italy's incredibly low number of births in 2019, the "lowest level ever recorded," indicates a serious problem that "concerns the very existence of our country," said Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Tuesday, as reported by Reuters.
Data from Italy's national statistics agency, ISTAT, show there were 435,000 births in 2019, which was 5,000 lower than in 2018, "the lowest level ever recorded in Italy" since records started in 1861.
In addition, last year there were 647,000 deaths, which was 14,000 more than in 2018.
“This is a problem that concerns the very existence of our country,” Mattarella said, according to Reuters. “The fabric of our country is weakening and everything must be done to counter this phenomenon.”
“As an old person I am well aware of the falling birth rate,” said the 78-year-old president.
"Italy’s overall population fell by 116,000 to 60.3 million [in 2019], with a steady rise in migrant and immigrant births helping to offset the declining domestic birth rate," reported Reuters.
The news service noted that, "Italy’s population had risen virtually every year since World War One, hitting a peak in 2015 at 60.8 million, but has since started to decline."
To try to encourage more births among Italians, the government has offered grants up to $175.00 per month (160 euros) "to help cover costs during the first year of a baby’s life and also promised young families up to 3,000 euros a year to cover nursery charges," said Reuters.
In 2019, the birth rate was 7.509 births per 1,000 people in Italy. In 1980, it was 12.269 births per 1,000 people, and in 1950 it was 18.607 births per 1,000 people. In 69 years, the birth rate declined 59.64%.