The demographic decline of southern Italy

Marcantonio Caltabiano, Università di Messina
Alessandro Rosina, Università Cattolica, Milan

In the XX century the southern regions of Italy were always characterized by a large - even if often low qualified - workforce, a negligible population aging, and a significant, at least until 1970s, emigration flow, directed not only toward the northern part of the country but also abroad. However, in the last decade this area entered an unprecedented and uninterrupted demographic crisis characterized by very low fertility, limited permanent immigration from developing countries and a resumption of emigration toward the richer northern regions (especially among young people with higher education). This decline is strictly connected to the economic crisis that has recently hit the area (declining GPD, high unemployment, especially among young people, a large number of low-qualified young people not in education neither in the job market) but also to its structural and apparently unalterable backwardness. Southern Italy is thus going to transform in the next forty years in a depopulated area, with the worst old age dependency ratio and the largest share of elderly (one out of six of its inhabitants will be aged 80 or more) in Western Europe, an area that will be economically dependent from the richer northern regions of the country. In this paper after showing the present demographic and economic dynamics of Southern Italy, using the most recent official statistics, we discuss the possible futures of this area and their consequences.

Presented in Poster Session 2