Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Go forth and multiply

Istat paints a greying picture

One in five Italians is 65 or over

(ANSA) - Rome, April 24 - Concerns over Italy's ageing population were fuelled on Monday by the release of a report showing that the country's grey army has swelled to some 11.5 million, or almost 20% of the population .

The report by national statistics bureau Istat said that a record 19.5% of Italians are now 65 or over, making Italy one of the world's 'greyest' societies .

It warned that unless the trend changed, the figure was likely to hit 34% by 2050 .

Under-18s account for just 17.1% of the population compared to 18.4% in 1995, Istat said, projecting a fall to 15.4% by 2050 if current trends continue .

It stressed that Italy, which has a population of 58 million, could soon find itself with one in every four people over 65 and only one in every eight under 18 .

On a brighter note, Istat highlighted a surge in the birth rate after years of decline .

It said the average number of births per female was now 1.34, well below the replacement level of 2.2 for a stable population but nonetheless the highest rate in Italy in 15 years .

The Global Baby Bust from Foreign Affairs paints the stark picture: unless we start having babies, we are doomed.

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