Demographic fall in Europe, the last Eurostat statistics show denatality in the old continent is growing at a worrying pace. But not for all countries.
The number of children per woman is growing in the Czech Republic and Hungary. Italy however is last along with Spain and Malta with a fertility rate of 1.3.
Even China, the most populous country in the world, experienced a decline in births. In fact, for the first time since 1961, 10 percent fewer children were born last year. But if for Beijing, at least for now, the birth rate is not a problem, for Europe the demographic crisis is now overt.
Denatality and demographic fall in Europe
One in three Europeans, in fact, lives in a region where the population has declined over the past decade. Immigration has not helped either, especially in the South and rural areas. While deaths have exceeded births in many countries.
Eurostat predicts that 190,000 fewer children will be born in 2030 than in 2020. Not all member states, however, will end the decade in the negative.
Indeed, the territorial gaps within the Union, already highlighted in the 8th European Territorial Cohesion Report, are also marked in the trend of births from 2010 to 2021.
Demographic fall, the situation in Italy
Let’s start with Italy. Italy is one of the least fertile countries in Europe, along with Spain and Malta, with less than 1.3 children per woman. The birth rate is the lowest in the EU in 2021 and stands at 6.8 births per thousand residents against a European average of 9.1.
Not only that. The average age of mothers at delivery of their first child in Italy is 33.1, compared with an EU average of 29.4, albeit rising. A string of negative records, in short, which have also been confirmed by Istat estimates for 2022. Last year, in fact, the decline in births that has persisted, without interruption, since 2010 was consolidated.
The rest of Europe
As mentioned, the gaps within the EU are considerable. Nine out of 27 EU states, in fact, are reporting rising fertility rates.
These include Hungary, which rose from 1.25 to 1.59 children per woman, and the Czech Republic, which rose from 1.51 to 1.83.
Prague thus matched the record historically held by France, whose figure, however, has been declining in recent years. Also noteworthy is the improvement in Germany, another country with major historical problems with denatality. There women’s fertility increased from 1.39 to 1.58 children.
Countries bucking the trend
Only three countries ended 2021 with a higher birth rate than in 2010. Germany (+15.7 percent), Hungary (+7.8 percent) and Austria (+2.1 percent). In other words, more children are being born in these states today than at the beginning of last decade.
What do these numbers tell us? Well, first of all, that even where there has been an increase in births, the mini-boom is not enough to prevent a decline in population numbers. In fact, net of migration, to have a stable population would require a fertility rate of more than 2.
This is the only way to ensure natural turnover. However, the last time this indicator in the EU was so high was 1975.
Increasingly older mothers, but not everywhere
In the Czech Republic, on the other hand, the average age of mothers in the past five years has declined from 30.7 years to 28.8 years. But by 2022 the fertility rate, while remaining above the European average, is expected to fall again.
Everywhere, in short, the challenge lies in being able to delay the explosion of the demographic bomb. Encouraging signs in this direction come from Spain and Portugal, which are investing heavily in family policies. Portugal, which has lost more than 200,000 inhabitants in ten years, has just announced, for the first time in years, a 5 percent increase in births in 2022.