It is necessary that by 2031 Italy will go back to registering at least half a million births in order to reverse the dangerous trend that has seen a dizzying demographic decline in our country since the Second World War. Without prejudice to the baby boom of the 1950s, where births reached peaks of one million new births per year, and the encouraging recovery of data in the early 2000s due to immigration, in the last 60 years the population of the boot has continued to decline due to the decline in births. A trend burdened by the consequences of the pandemic, of which Istat recorded the first effects in the latest report on births last year.
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The National Institute of Statistics calculates that 404,000 children were born in 2020 and that this year the figure should settle between 380 thousand and 390 thousand compared to an increase in deaths that last year reached a peak of 746 thousand, about the same recorded between 2014 and 2019. Discouraging numbers that are explained only in part in the contingent health crisis and the consequent high mortality of Covid and which instead are closely linked with the issue of female employment. To say this, just look at our French neighbors, whose demographic situation in the 1970s was similar to ours today and who today, on the other hand, with 1.84 children per woman (against 1.24 in Italy), rise to second place in the ranking. of the countries with the highest birth rates, immediately after Ireland. Impossible feat? Not necessarily, it is enough to budget for the right measures to reconcile professional opportunities and motherhood, applying targeted tax policies and investing in service networks such as nursery schools, nursery schools and retirement homes.
In France, for example, from July 2021 paternity leave will be extended to 28 days, of which at least 7 are mandatory, while parliament is working to make smart working mandatory for pregnant mothers already twelve weeks before maternity leave. . Also in France, baby bonuses are higher and the nursery network is more efficient to the point that there are also those co-managed by the same parents according to the logic of collective care which, in addition to meeting families, offer children equal starting conditions. And in Italy? The Pnrr presented to the European Union by the Draghi government talks about new investments destined for health centers such as nursery schools and schools, formulas to encourage the hiring of women by companies and a universal single check which from July 2021 will go to self-employed and unemployed workers and from 2022 will be extended to everyone. But all of this may not be enough.
What we need is a cultural change that embraces a more flexible idea of family with births outside marriages (which in 2020 fell by 48% compared to the previous year), single parents, families of various types and in evolution. As well as of course lifestyles and educational models that go beyond traditional social roles and give women more space and more independence to fulfill themselves. Because, for those who still haven’t understood it, more is born where women work more. Also for this reason the creation of a priority vaccination channel for pregnant women, as is already the case in the USA, Great Britain, Belgium, Israel and, from the third quarter, also in France, it would represent a good sign to re-establish the true priorities of the country.
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