demographics of Italy

The Demographics of Italy



seaside miss (2) affectionately
extend count (3) spend/spent/spent (2)
pass on prioritize pass on to
blame birthrate demographics
lack pointless extended family
policy tight (2) determined
nursery prospect bring/brought/brought
afraid structure into their own hands
in place give birth generation
role convince willpower
support shift (2) characteristic
swap vision (2) on average
hug institute other way around
pension property sacrifice (2)
pop in research pay/paid/paid
burden blessing dream (2)
recover hang out complicated
niece nephew pharmacy
realize expenses looking up
crisis beloved disappointed



Video: The Demographics of Italy



She’s the apple of Luisa’s eye: one year old Livia, whom she affectionately calls “La Bimba” is her only grandchild. Every year, he family spends the hot summer weeks at the seaside, just outside Rome.

Luisa misses the lively sound of children and extended families playing and relaxing. It used to be so common in Italy.

Luisa Stramacci: “What did we sacrifice so much for? It’s all pointless if there are no children or grandchildren to pass it on to.”

Italy’s demographics have changed. For years, the birthrate here has been one of the lowest in Europe.

Luisa even counts herself lucky to have one granddaughter: her daughter Serena was thirty-nine (39) years old when Livia was born.

Serena, who works at an airport, thinks that the lack of children can be blamed on politicians. She says no government in the last twenty years has prioritized modern family policies to support working mothers.

Serena Ottaviani, Airport Employee: “There are no structures in place. If I had a nursery at the airport in Rome where I can bring my child during working hours, then I’d have gong back to work the day after I had given birth.

But I couldn’t.”

Luisa thinks her children aren’t determined enough, like many young Italians, she says, and that they are afraid to take their lives into their own hands.

Her son Enrico works in a pharmacy. He doesn’t have a family of his own.

Luisa Stramacci: “My children’s generation has no more real prospects. They have no convincing vision for the future. And not just because there is less work nowadays, and not just because the state is making life harder. Young Italians have lost the willpower that used to be so characteristic in this country.”

Back in the day. Luisa loves watching movies from her childhood, when children were still a priority for many Italians. And everything seemed to be looking up.

Luisa Stramacci: “I still remember how my aunts used to look at us; how they would hug us children, tightly. Loved us.

And they gave us the feeling that through us, life was beginning once again.”

So what’s gone wrong in Italy?

Sociologists say during the last two decades, generations there have swapped roles.

Raffaella Caso, Eurispes Research Institute: “Today, the young don’t support the old anymore — it’s the other way around. Grandparents pass on their houses or property to their kids, or pay their grandchildren’s nursery costs with their pensions.”

On average, Italian women are thirty-three (33) when they give birth; that’s older than in any other European country.

Both men and women don’t view children as a blessing anymore — they see them as a burden.

Enrico Ottaviani, Employee: “With work, taxes and expenses, life is complicated enough. And the few free hours you have left everyday, you have to spend time recovering, thinking of your own needs a little, hanging out with friends.
Having kids puts an end to all that.”

But Luisa’s son Enrico likes being an uncle, and visits his sister and niece whenever possible. Family is important to him, but he doesn’t want children of his own.

Instead, the forty-two (42) year old pops in for lunch at his mom’s every day, just before starting his shift.

Luisa Stramacci: “I can’t really see my son or my daughter realizing their dreams. So they went to university, but what does she have now? A badly paying job at an airline. I had to support her financially for many years. Alright, she’s married now.

And Enrico?

Nothing. I had a different future in mind for him too.”

Luisa is disappointed in Italy, a country that’s gone through sixty-six (66) governments in seventy-four (74) years. She says all they did was produce crisis after crisis, and have done little for the country’s future, and the future of their children and her beloved grandchild.


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1. Luisa’s current family is large. True or false? Has it always been that way?

2. Is Luisa is nostalgic about the past. What does she miss?

3. Does the young generation blame themselves, their parents’ generation or the government? What examples were given?

4. Who does the older generation blame?

5. Teenage pregnancies are a major problem in Italy. Is this right or wrong?

6. Is modern life easy, difficult or in the middle?

7. Is Luisa optimistic, pessimistic, both or neigther?


A. Describe the demographics of your region and country. Is the population increasing, decreasing or remaining the same?

B. Do you remember the past? What was it like back then? Is it different from today? Which is “better” now or then?

C. What have caused these changes?

D. What might happen in the future?

E. Should people and the government do anything?

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