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Low Birth Rates in Italy

It has been reported by Global Agenda Magazine that Italy has the second lowest birth rate in Europe and the West. They are second only to Spain. Though Italy has an age old tradition of Catholics and is the center of Catholic Church, it is odd to note that the birth rate is only one single child per female.

Starting in 2003, the Italian government offered 1,000 euros to every women giving birth to a second child as a way to counter the trend. A Sunday Telegraph article in April 2004 compared Italys birth rate with Swedens which is 50 percent higher.

Other traditionally Catholic nations, like Ireland and France, have the highest and second highest birth rates in Europe. Even Sweden has a 50% higher birth rate in comparison to Italy. These increased numbers may be due to better government-controlled child and health care facilities as well as incentives for families that have more children.

In contrast to the situation in Italy, some other catholic countries in Europe such as France and Ireland have a high rate of child birth. The reason for this may be attributed to the fact that the government is more lavish in funding health and child care. They are also offering better incentives to families with more than one child.

It is a cause of concern that this trend will result in having a large number of people who are old and there are only a few people contributing gainfully to the society. This situation is likely in countries like Russia, Japan, Italy and other eastern European countries. This
phenomenon of low birth rates is being studied by people who study social and public policy in Europe.

One possible line of thinking is that in the earlier days a large number of children were considered indispensable to help in the farms or run the family business. It was also expected that they would look after the aging parents. It was felt that having more children was a sort of insurance for the old age. But nowadays, people when they grow old, are less and less dependent on their children. The provision of pension has contributed to this kind of thinking.

They also feel that since people have to pay higher taxes to support these kinds of social programmes, they have lower disposable incomes and less money to meet the expenses of bringing up more children.

Another cause for the declining birth rate is the fact that more women are working full-time during their childbearing years. Child-care programmes of different countries vary. For example, Norway has better financial and infrastructure facilities as compared to Italy.
Norwegian day-care centers are government funded and mothers have the option to work part-time, without affecting their position at work. They also get longer maternity leave.

It is important to seriously start thinking as to how the people of today in Italy will be supported when they grow old. Nevertheless this problem of low birth rate is definitely better than the problem that comes with very high population growth.

About the Author:

Desri Dillinaco is the occupier of Italy Inc. which is the premier resource for Italy information. For more information go to:


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