Birth rate in Italy hit record low in 2021

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In 2021, births in Italy dipped below 400,000 for the first time in history, according to the statistics institute ISTAT, while the overall population decreased by more than 250,000 as the COVID-19 epidemic weighed on the country.

According to ISTAT, 709,035 individuals died in Italy in 2021, down 30,000 from 2020 but still 9.8% more than the 2015-2019 average.

COVID-19 was responsible for 59,000 deaths in 2021, compared to more than 77,000 the year before, when COVID vaccinations were not yet available. To date, 156,868 fatalities have been connected to COVID-19 in Italy, making it the eighth-highest figure in the world.

According to demographers, the pandemic has exacerbated a drop in Italy’s birthrate, with 399,431 newborns documented in 2021 compared to 404,892 in 2020 – the 13th straight annual drop and the lowest number since the country’s union in 1861.

ISTAT said the overall population declined by 253,091 to 58.98 million in 2021, after accounting for births, deaths, and migratory flows.

Unlike what happened in 2020, the number of deaths is not concentrated in northern Italy, but affects the whole territory: in the north, only the autonomous province of Bolzano and Friuli-Venezia Giulia present a percentage higher than 13%, while in the south, during 2021, the number grew by 12.9% compared to the period between 2015 and 2019. In Apulia (+ 18.5%) and Molise (+ 14.6%), the figures far exceed the national average of 9.8%.

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