Declining populations

In Italy, birth rates are among the lowest on the continent. The community of Badolato, in particular, has been more than happy to welcome asylum seekers as the population ages and young people move out of the area.

Seven thousand people used to live in the village, but now that figure is closer to four hundred. Most of the young people have left to find employment elsewhere, a common occurrence in southern Italy.

Many fear that there will not be enough workers in the future to support the elderly who are living longer than ever before.

The population is in steep decline across the country. The number of children each Italian woman has is the lowest in Europe, at 1.41.

The UN estimates the Italian population could shrink by as much as a third by the next century. Without ‘replacement migration’, the retirement age would have to be raised to 77 to maintain the ratio of four workers to every pensioner.

Italy's population is expected to decline over the next 35 years with a death rate exceeding the birth rate, as well as negative migration. In 2010, 20 per cent of its population was 65 or older, with just 13.5 per cent under the age of 15.