The Coronavirus crisis has caused a decrease in the already low birth rate in Italy, according to new forecasts by the Italian National Statistics Agency, Estat.
The number of newborns in Italy last year reached 420,000, the lowest in 150 years, and is expected to decline further to 408,000 births in 2020 and 393,000 in 2021, according to expectations presented by the head of Estat, Gian Carlo Blangiardo, to Italian MPs.
Blangiardo said, “The climate of fear and uncertainty in addition to the financial difficulties (…) caused by recent events will have a negative impact on the fertility of Italian couples.”
He added that “the demographic stagnation that has hit Italy since 2015 is enormous and may lead to a real collapse and unprecedented in Italian history, except if we return to the period of 1917-18 with the outbreak of the First World War and the consequences of the Spanish flu.”
Women and the youth group in particular have been severely affected by the virus, which spread in Italy for the first time at the beginning of the year, which led to a national lockdown that crippled the country’s economy.
The hospitality sector continues to suffer as a result of the nationwide night curfews and early closures of bars and restaurants, while stricter restrictions have been imposed in the most vulnerable areas.
These restrictions reduced the employment rate by 1.9 percent among women from February through September this year, compared to 1.1 percent among men, according to Estat.
The agency warned that the crisis “exacerbates the inequality that currently exists in the labor market.”
The epidemic has wiped out 80 percent of the jobs women had gained since the 2008 financial crisis.
Between 2008 and 2019, Italy recorded 602,000 additional jobs held by women, but it took only 3 months between April and June to lose 470,000 of them.
Only half of women work in Italy, compared to 73% in Germany, 62% in France and 58% in Spain, and Greece is the only one with the worst female employment level in Europe, at only 47%.