A deadly combination of a plummeting birthrate and massive immigration portend that native Italians will make up an increasingly small percentage of Italy’s overall population, a new study reports.
Italy’s fertility rate is less than half of what it was in 1964, the Centro Machiavelli reported in its study titled “How immigration is changing Italian demographics.” It has dropped from 2.7 children per woman to just 1.5 children per woman currently, a figure well below the replacement level for zero population growth of roughly 2.1 children per woman.
As of the first of this year, Italy had over five million foreigners living as residents, a growth of a remarkable 25 percent relative to 2012 and a whopping 270 percent over 2002. At that time, foreigners made up just 2.38 percent of the population while fifteen years later the figure has nearly trebled to 8.33 percent of the population.
Moreover, even the children being born in Italy are over-represented by immigrants, whose birthrate is considerably higher than native Italians, the study revealed. It is “unsurprising,” therefore, that Italian regions with the highest fertility rates are no longer in the south, as was ever the case, but in the Italian north and in the Lazio region, where there is a higher concentration of immigrants.
If current trends continue, the report states, by 2065, first- and second-generation immigrants will exceed 22 million persons, or more than 40 percent of Italy’s total population.
By comparison, it was only in the not far-off 2001 that the percentage of foreigners living in Italy crossed the low threshold of one percent, which reveals the speed and magnitude of demographic change occurring in Italy, a phenomenon “without precedent” in Italy’s history, the study asserts.
An added concern brought forward by the report is the high concentration of immigrant populations from just a few countries of origin, which often results elsewhere in the formation of “closed, homogeneous communities that fail to integrate with their host society,” or what Pope Francis has termed “ghettoization.”
In the 1970s, the top ten countries of origin made up just 12.8 percent of the total immigrant population in Italy, the study found, whereas today five times that figure, or 64 percent of the total immigrant population, comes from just ten countries.
Unfortunately, Italy is not alone in its demographic turmoil, the study stated. Extrapolating from current trends, British citizens will no longer be the majority of the population in the United Kingdom around 1965.
In Germany today, 36 percent of children under five are born to immigrant parents, which presages a significant demographic shift in the next generation in that country as well.
In this regard, Italy represents a microcosm of Europe itself, which accounted for over a fifth of the entire world population in 1950 (22 percent), yet is expected to make up just 7 percent of the world population in the year 2050, the study states.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome