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Are Italians An Endangered Species?

Updated on May 26, 2010

You may have had to double-take upon reading the title of this hub, but it's no typo.There a lot of speculation that over the coming century, the populations of a few countries (including Italy) will slowly decrease to worryingly low levels.

You see, as countries develop, their birth and death rates travel along and change according to a general path of 5 development stages. These five stages make up the Demographic Transition Model (DTM), a graph plotting birth and death rates against time.

Summary Of The Demographic Transition Model

Initially, less economically developed countries will fall within stage 1 of this model - reflecting high birth and death rates due to factors such as primitive healthcare, education, female equality and technology (e.g. The Amazon Rainforest).

Stage 2 reflects a drop in death rates as countries experience an agricultural revolution - leading to better farming methods and consequently more food. Slight improvements in healthcare and better sanitation are also prevalent (e.g. Much Of Sub-Saharan Africa).

Stage 3 includes countries such as Malaysia and India where urbanization has taken place - resulting in a good standard of living. One notable change comes as a consequence of compulsory education and raised female equality - resulting in a drop in birth rates almost to the lowered level of death rates.

Stage 4 occurs when birth rates drop to be on par with death rates. This comes as a consequence of high development in terms of healthcare, education and affluence. There are also a high percentage of females in full-time employment due to further improvement in gender equality. Birth rates are consequently reduced to this level of stability as working women tend to have children later in life in order to focus on their career initially. Countries in stage 4 include Canada, France and the UK.

So what happens in stage 5?

When the Demographic Transition Model was first created, Stage 5 didn't exist. However, it seems to be making itself known today as countries in Stage 4 develop further. So what happens? As you can see in the DTM graph above, the birth rate begins to drop - but why should this be the case when developed countries in Stage 4 reach sustainability?

Well the answer lies in the country's women - after all, it is their decision whether to have children or not. In Italy's case, they're choosing 'not'. So why is this? Well, for one, most More Economically Developed Countries have a high level of gender equality - and in Italy it's just that little bit higher. Women are, for once, in control of their lives. They no longer have to be a mother which, in past centuries was all they could hope and aspire to.

This is social evolution, where women are single, independent and making their own living. Sort of reminiscent to that Alfie-like bachelor lifestyle so many men live. This seems to be inscreasingly the case in Italy, where the average Italian woman is at work for 10-11 hours a day in order to live that glamourous, material lifestyle.

But although the news that women are finally reaching gender equality in Italy is inspiring and exciting, it poses issues for the country's population numbers in the future. With so many women working full time, they have little free time as it is for living, let alone starting a family. This has had rather drastic impacts on the country's Total Fertility Rate.

As pictured above, Total Fertility Rate refers to the average number of children born per woman in her years of being capable of reproduction. The Replacement Level is the global average TFR required in order for birth rate to cancel out death rate and thus create sustainability in population. As pictured, the global TFR replacement level is around 2.1 - meaning 2.1 children born per woman would essentially cancel out the number of deaths.

This is what comes across as shocking.

Italy's Total Fertility Rate

With a TFR of 1.41, Italy's population is declining slowly, but surely.

As a result of this, the Italian government are concerned about the huge economic stalemate that may occur in around 30 years, when the next generation of Italians is dwarfed in comparison to the number of elderly - leading to catastrophic dependency issues. Since the average life expectancy in Italy is so high (81.9 years, 2008) the country will have a huge amount of pensions to provide with very few workers providing tax through their income.

The bottom line to this article is this: If current trends persist in Italy, Italians could well be placed on a list between the Panda and the white Tiger.

Feedback/Your Views?

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    • profile image

      sorel 

      7 years ago

      safasfasfas

    • profile image

      Indigital 

      7 years ago

      Great Blog! Well detailed, I also used a case-study of Italy in my Geography GCSE. Seems they've got the worst TFR in Europe!

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrew 

      8 years ago from Italy

      Interesting article, and well written. You should also add the fact that no one helps you if you want to have a family, you receive from the government economic helps which allow you to buy nappies for one month per year and that's it. As for the rest you're right, women tend to follow their career first and family second. And then have just one child. But this is also influenced by the fact that very few Italian families are able to live on one salary. As for pensions there would be no problems if the Italian Government didn't spend all the money collected from workers for other reasons; you should have a pension because you payed your taxes in the past, not because you use the taxes of this year to pay pensions of this year. But that's a game common to many Governments.

      Rated up and useful. And you have a new follower. :)

    • EpicNoob profile imageAUTHOR

      EpicNoob 

      8 years ago

      I suppose you're right, it just depends how large that initial 'ebb' is, you know?

      Will

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 

      8 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Change. The more change, the more things stay the same. Adjustments, you bet. We/us/they determine if they are resilient. When one studies history, there is an ebb and flow of country/religion dominance. Crisis creates solutions for those seeking answers. The curves assume the status quo... of behavior patterns. Societies are dynamic. Their "change" may be for their best interest as they adapt...

    working

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