Italy: A land of low Birth Rate
Declining Birth Rates of Italy
Italy, as we all know, is the world center of the Catholic Church. Strangely, in spite of its deep-rooted Catholic culture and tradition, it has today changed into a nation having the second lowest birth rates in Europe, next only to Spain. At 1.2 per woman that means one child per woman, according to Global Agenda Magazine.
It was brought out in an article in April 2004 in the Sunday Telegraph that Swedens Birth rate was close to Italys though 50% higher. In order to arrest this situation, the Italian Government started offering 1,000 euros to every woman who had a second child.
Other traditionally Catholic nations, like Ireland and France, have the highest and second highest birth rates in Europe. Even Sweden has a 50% higher birth rate in comparison to Italy. These increased numbers may be due to better government-controlled child and health care facilities as well as incentives for families that have more children.
Ireland and France, on the other hand, other traditionally Catholic countries, have the first and second highest birth rates in Europe. These numbers may be explained by more generous government-funded child and health care and benefits for families that have children.
It is a cause of concern that this trend will result in having a large number of people who are old and there are only a few people contributing gainfully to the society. This situation is likely in countries like Russia, Japan, Italy and other eastern European countries. This phenomenon of low birth rates is being studied by people who study social and public policy in Europe.
They believe that in the past, having children was a way of investing in ones old age security. This meant that if one had more children he had more hands to help with farming and the family business as well as more people to take care of him in his old age. With the introduction of pension systems where you pay for your own future security, the older people have become less dependent on their children for their financial needs and this has had a major impact on birth rates.
They also feel that since people have to pay higher taxes to support these kinds of social programmes, they have lower disposable incomes and less money to meet the expenses of bringing up more children.
Another cause for the declining birth rate is the fact that more women are working full-time during their childbearing years. Child-care programmes of different countries vary. For example, Norway has better financial and infrastructure facilities as compared to Italy. Norwegian day-care centers are government funded and mothers have the option to work part-time, without affecting their position at work. They also get longer maternity leave.
It is important to seriously start thinking as to how the people of today in Italy will be supported when they grow old. Nevertheless this problem of low birth rate is definitely better than the problem that comes with very high population growth.
This article was posted on February 13, 2006
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