Demographic indicators measure the evolution and structure of the population. The demographic changes that have taken place in Italy in recent years have highlighted significant phenomena: the decrease in fertility, the increase in the average life expectancy and the ageing trend of the population.
In 2019, women residing in Italy had an average of 1.27 children (1.29 in 2018). The indicator has been decreasing since 2010, when the relative maximum of 1.46 children per woman was recorded. Italy was still at the bottom of the ranking of EU countries.
Women have postponed the reproductive experience: the mean age at childbearing reached 32.1 years.
In 2019, the life expectancy at birth of the Italian resident population was equal to 81.1 years for men and 85.4 for women. The index, for both genders, showed an increase compared to the previous year.
In 2019, the number of marriages (184,088) decreased again after the recovery of 2018 (-11,690; -6.0%, compared to the previous year). The nuptiality rate dropped to the value of 3.1 marriages per thousand inhabitants, from 3.2 registered in the previous year.
In 2019, 97,474 separations and 85,349 divorces are recorded. The number of separations remained unchanged compared to the previous year, while the number of divorces showed a slight decrease (-3.5%). More relevant was the decline observed in divorces (-13.9%) if compared to 2016, the peak year, due to the substantial growth following the entry into force, in May 2015, of the reform law that shortened the time length of the administrative procedure.
Compared to the previous year, in January 1 2020 the dependency ratio was quite steady, going from 56.4 to 56.7, confirming the imbalance among generations. The ageing index continued to grow, showing an increase of over five percentage points compared to the previous year, reaching the value of 179.3 elderly people for every hundred young people in January 1 2020.
In 2019, more than a third of the population resided in three regions: Lombardia, Lazio and Campania. The South and Islands of Italy were the most populated areas of the country, even though their population continued to slow down more than in the Centre-North. Instead, Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna and the provinces of Bolzano/Bozen and Trento showed population increases. The regions experiencing a major decrease, in percentage terms, were Molise and Basilicata.
The natural and migratory dynamics present substantial differences at the territorial level. The natural balance of the population also showed negative values in all areas in 2019. The natural growth rate of the South continues to be negative, with values well below those of the Center-North.
In 2019, the North of Italy showed the highest fertility levels (1.30 in the North-West and 1.32 in the Northeast), especially in the provinces of Bolzano/Bozen and Trento (respectively 1.71 and 1.42), in Lombardia (1.33) and in Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste (1.31).
The gap between the Center and the South was increasing: the Center showed a decline of the fertility rate (from 1.23 to 1.19), while in the South, it remained stable (1.26).
Sardegna showed the lowest fertility rate (1.00), still decreasing compared to 2018 (1.02).
In 2019, the minimum life expectancy was registered in Campania (83.9 years; 9.7 years for women). In the Centre-North, the value of life expectancy was above the national average, in particular in the province of Trento for women (86.6) and in Umbria for men (82.1).
In 2019, the nuptiality rate generally decreased; Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste and Umbria are the only exception. In these regions, the value of the indicator was unchanged, compared to the previous year. Instead, Campania and Sicily showed the highest nuptiality ratio (respectively 4.0 and 3.9 per thousand), preceded only by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen (4.2 per thousand).
With regard to separations, there was a convergence between the various areas of the country, while the North-South gap concerning divorces was significant. In 2019, the national separation rate per 10,000 inhabitants was equal to 16.4; it reached the peak in Valle d’Aosta/ Vallée d'Aoste and Liguria (respectively 19.5 and 19.3) and the minimum in the province of Bolzano/Bozen with 12.3. The highest divorce rate per 10,000 inhabitants, against a national average value equal to 14.3, were observed in Valle d’Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste (18.6) and Liguria (18.5), these regions were again at the top of the ranking, whereas Basilicata (8.9), Calabria (10.6) and Molise (11.2) were at the bottom.
In January 1 2020, the lowest value of the ageing index was registered in the South and Islands (164.4 elderly people per hundred young people), even though it was the geographical area showing the greatest increase compared to the previous year (+6.2 percentage points). At a regional level, in Liguria the highest value of the index was recorded (262.4). Instead, in Campania it showed the lowest value (135.1).
In January 1 2020, in the North-West the dependency ratio showed the highest level (59.0 people in non-working age per hundred of working age) and Liguria ranked at the top (65.8); overall, the value registered in the Centre-North (58.4) was higher than the national average. The most significant increase, between 2019 and 2020, was recorded in the South and Islands (from 53.0 to 53.6).
In January 1 2019, within the European Union, Italy was confirmed as the fourth most important country in terms of population (over 12% of 513 million European inhabitants) after Germany (83 million), France (67 million) and the United Kingdom (66.6 million). In the period 2009-2019, Italy occupied the eighteenth position in relation to the average annual rate of change of the overall population. However, it is below the EU average.
In relation to the natural increase rate, Italy (-3.6 per thousand inhabitants) ranked twenty-second in the decreasing ranking, well below the EU average (-0.8). The position in the ranking was similar as to the total net migration rate (0.7 per thousand inhabitants compared to EU average of 3.2).
In 2018, the last year available for a comparison with EU members, Italy, showed a total fertility rate equal to 1.29 children per woman and it was among the countries showing the lowest fertility rate, preceded only by Malta (1.23) and Spain (1.26). Moreover, showing a women’s mean age at childbearing equal to 32.0 years, Italy was one of the countries with where the most postponed reproductive calendar was registered. Higher levels were observed only in Ireland, Spain (both with an average age at birth equal to 32.2) and Luxembourg (32.1).
In 2018, life expectancy in the EU was equal to 83.6 years for women and 78.3 years for men. Italy was one of the countries showing the highest values. The indicator, for both genders, showed lower values in Eastern European countries. Instead, the maximum value for women was recorded in Spain (86.3 years), while for men (80.9 years) it was registered in three different countries: Sweden, Cyprus and Italy.
In 2019, the nuptiality rate in Italy was equal to 3.1 marriages per thousand inhabitants. Italy, therefore, fell to the bottom among European countries. Indeed, the lowest number of marriages per inhabitant was registered in Italy, followed by Portugal and Slovenia, which showed an indicator equal to 3.2 marriages per thousand inhabitants.
Italy’s divorce rate ranked fourth from bottom among the EU countries in the top-down ranking, a place shared with Croatia and Bulgaria (1.5 per thousand inhabitants). It was followed only by Slovenia (1.2), Ireland and Malta (0.7). On the other hand, at the top of the ranking there were the Baltic countries (in particular Latvia with 3.1 and Lithuania with 3.0) and those of Northern Europe, which showed values of the indicator well above the EU average (1.9).
In January 1 2019, Italy ranked still first in the decreasing ranking of the ageing index (179.3 elderly for every hundred young people), followed by Portugal (159.4) and Germany (158.4). Ireland, instead, showed again the lowest value (68.6) of the ageing index, in Europe.
Referring to the dependency ratio, which recorded its maximum value in France (61.5), in the descending ranking Estonia (56.7) and Latvia (56.6) have exceeded Italy (56.4), which showed the same position and value of Denmark.