Culture as the demographic engine of an (otherwise) dying Italy

More than a prediction, the one issued by Istat is a national obituary.

Our National Statistical Institute has recently published an in-depth study linked to one of the most important aspects for the future of our country: the future demographic trend.

The estimates proposed by Istat, it must be said, since these are data relating to the next 30 years, are mainly projections, the main role of which is not so much that of actually defining how our society will be composed, but rather identifying what forms our society could take. company “net of changes”.

And judging by the data released, these changes are at least necessary.

The analysis, in fact, predicts that, in thirty years, the average age of the Italian population will be 50.7 years, and that our society will be characterized by a 1 to 3 ratio between young and old.

Above all, net of changes, Istat in its analysis identifies that in 2048, deaths during the year will be double the expected births.

We remember that these are projections, and that thirty years are far from a few, but the conditions to start worrying about our future, and that of our “non-children”, are all there.

Because Italy painted on this draft is an old country, with millions of fewer citizens; an Italy in which the small municipalities, which many proclaim to hold an important historical heritage of our country, will increasingly tend to dissolve into ghost municipalities. An Italy with empty schools and with a tendential concentration of the youngest in the most important urban centers.

An Italy in which, through the political mechanism that has characterized our country for decades, most of the political attention will be directed to the voters, who will be, we remember, increasingly older. It is easy to imagine the policies: the increase in life will tend to create more and more centers for aggregation for the elderly, to the detriment of initiatives aimed at increasing demographics or developing sustainable living conditions for young people. A country which, therefore, in the eyes of the latter, would end up being less attractive than international opportunities, with consequences on the balance of migratory flows, from south to north, and from Italy to abroad.

In short, a dying country.

Of course, such a scenario almost assumes the connotations of dystopia, but it is also good to concretely translate what numbers alone are unable to evoke.

It is clear, therefore, that in order to define different scenarios it is necessary for our country to start defining corrective policies from now on, which go to contrast, in the medium and long term, the trends highlighted by Istat.

And it is clear that corrective policies of this type must necessarily concern all sectors: from the economy to infrastructure, from education to incentives for citizens who decide to have a child in our country.

In this broad scenario, however, culture can also play its part.

Of course, a condition of this type certainly cannot be resolved with a theatrical performance.

But if we think of culture as a much broader segment, as a sector capable of generating both economic and extra-economic effects and impacts, then something, in its own small way, culture can do it too.

Culture and creativity, as economic sectors, are still “young” sectors, whose conformation can assume a decisive role in economic policies.

Today, for the most part, these are sectors made up of small studios, or, as they say in the official documents, of Micro and SMEs, with some larger players that essentially hold a large share of the market.

Acting on these segments through a true industrial policy could lead to a greater distribution of the aggregate added value, with a consequent redistribution of income.

It is not a simple operation, above all because it requires a general political vision: it would be inappropriate, as well as contrary to the principles of the free market, to envisage policies that give an undue advantage to the smallest subjects.

However, this redistribution could be the natural consequence of joint development factors: on the one hand a policy in favor of cultural and creative exports, on the other a policy of favoring larger companies to acquire minority shares in order to smaller subjects under certain conditions.

Such a condition could, for example, represent an advantage for the entire sector when the birth of “small municipalities 4.0” is favored, forgetting a short-term cost-benefit logic, and on the contrary including the opportunity costs in case of depopulation of our country.

Because the goal is to reverse a trend towards the “funfair for the elderly”, and to do so, it is necessary to implement policies today that have an effect already in the next 10 years, with a reversal of the trend on the demographic data.

In this scenario, the technological component, which increasingly characterizes our time, cannot be ignored.

Today it is not impossible to imagine “new forms of life” within small municipalities: the repopulation of the villages could thus be delegated to actions aimed at creating creative hubs, with aggregations of smart working offices created in agreement with companies from all over the territory and international territories.

Just as today it is not impossible to imagine that the cultural and creative industries (like others, it is clear), can hire non-graduated employees at advantageous conditions in the event that the aforementioned companies undertake to cover the costs of the University for such employees.

Furthermore, development policies could emerge from a broader vision regarding the attraction of foreign direct investments: today we sell off our territories because we simply treat them as pieces of land.

Instead, it would be useful to involve investors in development processes, ensuring that they do not buy, superficially, properties, but growth projects related to these properties, making sure that the greater value of the sale goes to be destined precisely for the realization. of such projects.

Perhaps it is worth repeating: culture is not and never will be the only industry capable of reversing a process of this type.

But it is also right to reiterate that if we begin to consider culture as a living asset, as an industry capable of generating change and not just as a heritage to be safeguarded, then culture can play a much more important role than it currently plays. in defining our future.

However, this type of classification still eludes many. Especially to those who are interested in culture.

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