After China, Italy has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus. Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., said,
“Italy’s aging population is a factor in the spread of a disease to which the elderly are particularly susceptible.”
“As of March 17, there were almost 28,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,158 deaths in Italy. Only China has more cases. And while China has the world’s largest population, Italy’s cases are concentrated in a numerically much smaller population than China’s. The number of total cases in Italy is roughly 460 per million population,* far higher than China’s 56 cases per million population. Worse, while the growth of new cases has slowed in China, it’s speeding up in Italy.”
Italy’s demographic problem of falling fertility should be seen as the backdrop to its coronavirus crisis. “Italy’s fertility rate is now 1.33 children per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1,” Morse explained.
As a result, Italy has a rapidly aging population. Almost a quarter, 23% of Italy’s population is now over 65 years of age. In 2019, the median age was 46.3 years, projected to rise to 51.4 years by 2050. This in turn has given Italy a shrinking economy and rising public sector costs, due to pensions and healthcare.
The nation’s growing elderly population has also put a strain on its healthcare system, as the coronavirus situation illustrates.
“The answer is obvious,” Morse said.
“Italy should be (and should have been) promoting procreation. Russia has a National Conception Day to address its fertility crisis. Hungary has recently introduced birth incentives. Instead of trying to get more women into the workforce or admitting more migrants– both short term solutions, at best – Italy should be encouraging Italian families to have more children. A nation without children has no future.”
“We must do everything we can to limit the spread of the disease,” Morse said.
“But we must also understand the role of demographics in creating the sort of population prone to the coronavirus and other pandemics. With any luck, and by the grace of God, Italy will experience a post-COVID baby boom. Any new baby is a sign of renewed hope in the future. Certainly, new babies conceived in Italy now are a great sign of hope.”
The Ruth Institute is a global non-profit organization, leading an international interfaith coalition to defend the family and build a civilization of love. Find more information here.
Dr. Morse is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives.
*The rate of cases per million population for Italy was conspicuously absent from this chart on the day I checked. I calculated the roughly 466 cases per million population by using the number of cases in Italy, (27,980, as of March 17) and dividing by Italy’s total population as reported here. Italy’s cases per million population is by far the largest in the world.
[Photo by Jack Ward