Declining Birth Rates of Italy
Italy, as we all know, is the world center of the
Catholic Church. Strangely, in spite of its deep-rooted
Catholic culture and tradition, it has today changed into
a nation having the second lowest birth rates in Europe,
next only to Spain. At 1.2 per woman that means one
child per woman, according to Global Agenda Magazine.
It was brought out in an article in April 2004 in the
Sunday Telegraph that Swedens Birth rate was close to
Italys though 50% higher. In order to arrest this
situation, the Italian Government started offering 1,000
euros to every woman who had a second child.
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.
Ireland and France, on the other hand, other traditionally
Catholic countries, have the first and second highest birth
rates in Europe. These numbers may be explained by more
generous government-funded child and health care and
benefits for families that have children.
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.
They believe that in the past, having children was a way
of investing in ones old age security. This meant that
if one had more children he had more hands to help with
farming and the family business as well as more people to
take care of him in his old age. With the introduction of
pension systems where you pay for your own future
security, the older people have become less dependent on
their children for their financial needs and this has had
a major impact on birth rates.
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.