Italian women 'don't want children'

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ROME - The number of couples choosing to wed is rising, but fewer are deciding to reproduce, a new study from ISTAT has concluded. From 2008 to 2016, there have been 100,000 fewer births. The research company have used the most recent figures, and have said that parents with Italian heritage are continuing to conceive less their predecessors.

 ISTAT has suggested that two factors have contributed to the declining birth rate. There are now fewer women of reproductive age, and more are choosing to abstain from giving birth. The sharpest decline is seen in couples where both parties are of Italian heritage, but the decrease can be seen also in parents of a foreign background in Italy.

 Using the latest data, ISTAT has said that in 2016, there were 473,438 children born, while the numbers were 12,000 higher in the previous year. However, the number of weddings has continued to rise since 2015, and over 200,000 nuptial celebrations occurred this year. According to the research company, “looking at generations, the average number of children per woman in Italy continues to decrease, from 2.5 children of women born in early 1920s … to 2 children per woman of the post-war generations … 1.44 children for women of the 1976.” Simultaneously, the number of women without children has risen 10 percent since 1950.

 The Italian government has attempted to turn around what the Italian health minister, Beatrice Lorenzin, called in 2014 an “apocalypse” of declining birth rates. Italy has a “baby bonus” scheme in which 80 euros a month are given as a stipend to families with newborns to support them financially for the first three years after birth. There has been a discussion of doubling the bonus to incentivise couples to reproduce, but this would add an estimated 2.2 billion euros to public spending over six years at a time when Italy’s economic growth has not surged.

 Italy’s birth rate is one of the lowest in the European Union, and this fact has been attributed to the economic pressures facing couples in the country. On top of this, only two days of paternity leave is offered at full pay, according to a report published by the Business Insider newspaper in Sept. Other factors including the high price of childcare have contributed to the declining birth rate.