Report: Italy Is ‘Fastest-Shrinking Nation’ in the West

Italy’s plummeting and aging population has put the country at the forefront of a global demographic trend dubbed the “silver tsunami,” the New York Times reported Tuesday.

While the overall Italian population is shrinking at the fastest rate in the West, it is also experiencing an “exploding population of old people,” writes Jason Horowitz, and without more young people joining the work force and paying into pension and welfare systems, “the whole system is imperiled.”

As Breitbart News has reported, births in Italy have been steadily declining, with a drop of nearly 30 percent between 2008 and 2020 to well below the replacement level.

The Italian Statistics Bureau (ISTAT) released dire demographic forecasts in 2018, predicting a decline of more than ten percent in the nation’s population by 2065, despite increased life expectancy and immigration.

Italy’s low birthrate combined with increased immigration also portends that native Italians will make up an ever smaller percentage of Italy’s overall population. In 2017, Italy had over five million foreigners living as residents, a striking growth of 25 percent relative to 2012 and a remarkable 270 percent over 2002, when foreigners made up just 2.38 percent of the population.

There is another, ominous side to Italy’s migration crisis and that is the number of Italians emigrating from their home country, which more than doubled between 2010 and 2014.

Moreover, those leaving the country are disproportionately the nation’s best and brightest, a true “brain drain” that is hurting the country in unexpected ways.

During the ten-year period from 2005 to 2015, for example, over ten thousand doctors and eight thousand nurses left Italy to work abroad. The drop in healthcare providers is expected to significantly affect hospital treatment as soon as 2025.

This emigration trend is not expected to slow up any time soon, and forecasts suggest that matters will get worse before they get better.

Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced Europe’s “demographic winter” led by his host country of Italy, which has the lowest birthrate of any nation on the continent.

In the case of Italy, he said, “there is a dangerous fall in the birthrate, a veritable demographic winter, which endangers the very future of society,” the pope warned earlier this month.

The pontiff has called the demographic drop a new form of “generative poverty” leading to a “cold demographic winter.”

Declining birthrates represent “a real social emergency,” the pope said. “It is not immediately perceptible, like other issues that occupy the news, but it is very urgent: fewer and fewer children are being born, and this means impoverishing everyone’s future; Italy, Europe, and the West are impoverishing their future.”

For her part, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni ran on an election campaign motto of “God, Family, Homeland” and promised assistance to young couples who would like to have children.

“The challenge of the birth rate is our challenge of life,” Meloni said in a 2022 Twitter post. “While in Italy the left has always preferred the shortcut of immigration to solve the problem of demographic decline, Fratelli d’Italia has always placed family assistance policies at the center of the debate.”

“Italy is a nation destined to disappear,” Meloni has warned in reference to dramatic demographic data. “Fratelli d’Italia has been leading for years, often alone, a battle to ensure that the birth rate is a priority for Italy and for Europe.”