More on demography – Jason Horowitz in NYT:
‘On one side of a glass wall, three toddlers in a nursery school flattened play dough with plastic rolling pins. On the other, three old women in a nursing home tapped the pane to get their attention.
“Let’s say hi to the nonni,” the children’s teacher said before leading them through a door that connected the two rooms.
The children stopped to play with the magnifying glass of a delighted 89-year-old woman who had been using it to read obituaries. Then the toddlers, all 2 years old, took an elevator upstairs, where nursing home residents waited to read them picture books in a small library.
“It’s an extraordinary thing,” said one of the residents, Giacomo Scaramuzza, 100. “People think we are from two different worlds, but it’s not true. We are in the same world. And maybe I give them something, too. There is an exchange.”’
‘Italy’s population is aging and shrinking at the fastest rate in the West, forcing the country to adapt to a booming population of elderly that puts it at the forefront of a global demographic trend that experts call the “silver tsunami.” But it faces a demographic double whammy, with a drastically sinking birthrate that is among the lowest in Europe. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said Italy is “destined to disappear” unless it changes.’
‘The new law, he said, will fix a system that is “a mess,” streamlining and simplifying government health care and social services, and getting local and national government into the growing field of long-term care. At the same time, it seeks to keep aging Italians in their own homes and out of institutions. A key innovation, he said, depends on funding by the Meloni government, but would give Italians a choice between unconditional cash benefits or larger in-kind contributions to be used for public care.
“The main shortcoming is that there is no money,” Mr. Gori said. The hope, he said, is that Ms. Meloni’s government, which sold itself to voters as being “family, family, family,” will make the program a real priority and fund it. But without more young people to join the work force and pay into pension and welfare systems, the whole system is imperiled.
Ms. Meloni, who once ran for mayor while pregnant, is Italy’s first female prime minister, and throughout her career, she has made raising the country’s perennially low birthrate and helping working mothers a priority.
But critics say her “Italians First” opposition to immigration — she has gone so far as to warn against “ethnic replacement” — hurts population growth. And Ms. Meloni’s government, slowed by local bureaucratic snags, has already delayed a program to build new nursery schools financed with 3 billion euros — or about $3.3 billion — in European Union recovery funds.’
‘Some, however, expressed skepticism that the children got much out of it.
“After five minutes, they refuse you,” said Luisa Tani, 86, who reads to the children in part, she said, out of nostalgia for her early years as an elementary school teacher.
The center has received interest from academics. College students have written theses on the center’s approach to intergenerational living, which Ms. Cavozzi says echoes the traditional Italian home, with the residents as the heads of the family, the staff as the adults and the children as the children.’
‘When Benito Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922, the Fascists immediately got to work on increasing birthrates, stemming emigration and increasing Italy’s population to 60 million (from 40 million) by 1950.
“If the number diminishes, ladies and gentlemen, you don’t make an empire, you become a colony,” Mussolini said in a 1927 speech calling growth a “destiny of the race.”
To address what it came to call Italy’s “problem of problems,” the regime introduced paid maternity leave, among other steps. But the obsession with birthrate by a man who threw in his lot with Hitler, demographers say, had the effect of stigmatizing social policy on the problem, leading Italy to invest less in assistance for young families than other European countries after the war.
“The belief that family policies had a Fascist echo had a role,” said Mr. Rosina, the demographer.
In the 1950s, Italy’s economy boomed, and so did its population, which filled with young workers. But generations of leaders largely failed to help Italians with programs like day care, prompting criticism that the country’s conservative culture cared more about mothers staying home to give birth than helping women work and raise children.
In November, Ms. Meloni, who has roots in post-Fascist parties, encouraged couples to have children and businesses to hire women. She later announced a 50 percent increase in the “baby bonus” checks parents receive a year after a birth and a 50 percent increase in assistance for three years to families with more than three children.
“We continue to look at today,” Ms. Meloni has said, “not realizing we won’t have a tomorrow.”’
Read the article here.
Italy might still exist in a couple of centuries years or so, but without Italians, whatever we mean by Italians.
And the birth rate in other countries (Spain for example) isn’t much higher.
Without immigration, it’s going to be difficult to renew the population, and without enough young people working and paying taxes, money for the elderly will be drying up soon.
No children, no pets, it is good for the environment. It’s sustainable. Abolish mankind in a human way. Italians are avantgarde.
Perhaps the logic of civilization is just no procreation.
Decadence has always been understood as the opposite of survival, as decay and destruction, not without canapés and champagne of course.
‘After five minutes they refuse you.’ The last children will be as cruel as the first ones.