China has ended the “One-Child” policy put in place in 1970s to ensure that the fruits of economic growth were not going to be devoured by the out of control population explosion. Nevertheless, the population continued to grow and it’s now about to slow down dramatically. The Chinese officials, by decree, have changed their policy to accommodate their economic and demographic policy.
The Europeans, the Italians in particular, have been facing low birth rates for quite a while now and Italy, along with Germany, is facing the lowest birth rate in Europe. What‘s worse is an aging population that is living longer and receiving generous social security benefits, further straining Italy’s economic resources. In this economic downturn the up-and-coming generation will have difficulty finding work and, when they do at a much later age, their contributions will not be sufficient to sustain the costs for the pensions for the older folks. The “20 something” Italians are very educated these days and they are taking matters into their own hands. Many are moving to wealthier countries to make a living and some will never repatriate. Indeed this brain-drain will be a big loss to Italy in the future. Italy needs workers for their manufacturing companies and, therefore, their open-door immigration policy is a stop-gap to combat the low chronic birth rate. This approach, if managed correctly and efficiently, will help but it may take one or two generations before making any noticeable improvements.
Should we encourage Italian couples to have more children? Don’t forget, Italy has lost over 26 million of its citizens to immigration in the past century. Maybe the government should learn from the Chinese and offer tax incentives for young couples to have numerous children and making it affordable to raise larger families.
The last time Italy gave incentives to push for a population growth was during the fascist regime, when it needed to grow the numbers so that it could populate its African colonies. Families with 5 or more children were quite common during the 1930’s. My grandparents and siblings came to America instead of Africa, so that I could have the privilege to live the American Dream!