Here is an ambitious goal for you: Viva Italia! »MercatorNet
Once upon a time, on my very first descent at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome, I spotted the pines of Rome, which reminded me of Ottorino Respighi’s 1924 symphonic poem with that name. In this symphonic piece, Respighi depicts the pines of Rome in four different parts of the city at four different times of the day. In doing so, he manages to evoke all the beauty and grandeur of the Eternal City. Since that time, my enthusiasm for the beautiful Mediterranean country—he bel paese– never wavered.
Italy is endowed with a healthy climate, an incomparable cultural heritage and a fabulous landscape. Italian heritage permeates the architecture, music, wine, cuisine and lifestyle. The Italian way of life, The good life– although too casual for many Brits and Americans – suits me well.
The efficiency so sought after by neighbors to the north is lacking. Try driving to Rome and you will find lawlessness reigns, but people happily manage. The country is a privileged target for smugglers. But there are opera fans galore. Composers revered, ancient Romans celebrated, churches cherished, and life lived. These are the people who, during the pandemic lockdown, sang and played music together from their balconies, channeling creativity to improve the mood of the audience. Only in Italy.
Hooray for the Italians! The show must continue!
Yet Italy has its problems. The economy is a hopeless case, firmly in the grip of the ruthless talons of globalism. Debt exceeds 135% of GDP. (What can we expect when the head of state is a central banker?) Unemployment is 10%, and youth unemployment is around 30%. Taxes are among the highest of the 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD): income taxes and the social security system claim about 48% of wages. There is, therefore, a thriving “shadow economy”, or black market.
Adjusted for inflation, the wages of Italian workers are the same as 20 years ago. The cost of living, of course, is not. More than 400,000 jobs have been lost due to the blockages. Many of them will not come back.
And, most alarmingly, since the mid-2000s, 2.4 million Italians have left the country for opportunities elsewhere.
Like other Europeans, Italians are an endangered race. They just don’t have enough children to replace themselves. The population has been declining every year since 2015. In 2019, there were 212,000 more deaths than births. Italy has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world at 1.34. In December 2020, following the February confinement, births were down 21.6% compared to December 2019. Just over 400,000 people were born in Italy in 2020, the lowest annual number since 1861, year of Italian unification.
Statistics compiled by Macrotrends indicate that Italian fertility, already down from 2.5 at the end of the 1960s, was 2.15 in 1975 and fell to 1.26 in 2000, a drop of 41% in just 25 years. Italy’s current fertility rate of 1.34 is 36% below the replacement level of 2.1.
The Italian government and Eurostat, the keeper of EU statistics, predict that Italy’s population in 2080 will be between 53 and 60 million. The Lancet A landmark 2017 fertility study predicted Italy’s population, currently over 60 million, would be halved by the turn of the century, to between 28 and 30 million. The Lancet further projected that Italy’s fertility rate in 2100 would be between 1.17 and 1.23.
The lack of babies means Italy is aging. The country had a higher Covid-19 death rate than most places, as 28% of people are over 70 and 7.2% are over 80. deceased with Covid has been listed as dying of Covid, there is no doubt that Italy is aging fast. In 2019, pensions represented 17% of the economy.
The loss of faith, along with the growth of materialism, consumerism and all-or-nothing careerism, has taken its toll. Unless there is a revolutionary change in the way people view family life, reproduction and children, fertility will not increase. Economic and social incentives could help, but without a fundamental shift in mindset – a spiritual rebirth – fertility will not increase enough to make a difference.
Each year, the number of native Italians decreases by a quarter of a million. Like the rest of the West, Italy relies on mass immigration to maintain the workforce. A plurality of immigrants to Italy are from Romania, but many of them are heading to more prosperous EU countries. While all of Europe is in demographic decline, the flow of European immigrants is drying up.
Since 2014, European navies and NGOs have brought 600,000 migrants from Libya to Italy, with the full cooperation of the Italian government.
According to Eurostat, in 60 years, 50% of people living in Italy will be of African or Asian origin. Intentional or not, a repopulation is underway, completely modifying the ethnic, racial and religious composition of the country.
Will these newcomers and their descendants absorb Italian culture and assimilate into the Italian nation? History teaches that they will change the character of the country. How? ‘Or’ What? I’ve no idea.
But I fervently hope that people in Italy 60 years from now love opera, revere composers, celebrate ancient Rome, cherish churches, and don’t miss a beat with this delicious, delicious Italian food.
Live italy !