The Italian Almanac

immigrants with their children

Italian News - July 11

The Italian population seems destined to become increasingly multicultural in coming decades as immigrant families continue to have more children than native Italian ones, according to new statistics. Although the number of foreigners living in Italy is still not high by European standards, the number of births in immigrant families has climbed rapidly over the last 10 years, national statistics bureau Istat said.

Italy has had one of the lowest birth rates in the world for 15 years now, although it has risen marginally from the all-time low of 1.1 children per woman in the early 1990. Many demographers say that if current trends continue, without immigration to help the Italian population would be set to shrink by 10% or more by the middle of the century.

Comparing the Italian data with other European countries, they looked for the most relevant factors in this shift away from the former stereotype of large Italian families. Their conclusions suggested that the key issues in Italy were related to male-female equality. The research showed that in countries where men did their share of housework and and where non-traditional families were recognised legally, the birth rate per woman was higher.

Another factor, such as equality in men and women's salaries for similar jobs, also appeared to boost the birthrate in countries such as Norway and Sweden. This sort of issue has not escaped notice at the highest level in Italy. A few months before Carlo Azeglio Ciampi came to the end of his term as president, he chastised male compatriots for not doing enough in the home.

Italian women spend more time working in the home than any of their European counterparts, according to a Eurostat survey published in Italian dailies.