Mama mia

Published: Monday 15 June 1998

most Italians have stopped making babies. The country's chief statistical body confirms that the country has the lowest fertility rate in the world. Women now bear 1.2 babies per individual. Only the Spaniards, in western Europe are as unproductive.

In 1996, when the counting was last conducted, deaths had outpaced births for four years in a row. If population of the country is slightly up, it is only because of the 1,78,000 immigrants who took up legal residence two years ago.

According Ida Magli, an anthropologist, childlessness no longer bears a stigma, and the social pressure to marry and have children is much weaker in Italy. This concept even applies to the Mezzogiorno (Italy's poor and ultra-traditional south), where women are choosing to have fewer babies.

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