The Double Whammy Making Italy the West’s Fastest-Shrinking Nation

To solve what is known as the “problem of problems” in Italy, the regime introduced paid maternity leave, among other steps. But demographers say the obsession with the birth rate of a man once very close to Hitler has had the effect of discriminating social policy on the issue, prompting Italy to invest less in support of young families compared with other European countries after the war.

“The belief that Fascist-influenced family policies played a role,” said demographer Rosina.

In the 1950s, Italy’s economy boomed and so did its population, which was filled with young workers. But generations of leaders have largely failed to help Italians with programs such as day care, leading to criticism that the country’s conservative culture is concerned with mothers staying at home. home to have children rather than helping women work and raise children.

In November, Ms. Meloni, who has roots in post-Nazi parties, encouraged couples to have children and businesses to hire women. She then announced a 50% increase in the amount of “baby bonus” parents receive one year after the birth of a child, and a 50% increase in support over three years for families with more than three children.

“We keep looking at today, not realizing that we won’t have tomorrow,” Ms. Meloni said.

But despite billions of euros earmarked for European Union kindergartens, Italy has delayed the opening dates of 1,857 kindergartens and 333 kindergartens, the majority in Italy’s poorer south. If Italy does not start construction by the June 2023 deadline at the latest, the country risks losing money.

Mr Scaramuzza, the centenarian, said he hopes some of the new kindergartens will also share space with nursing homes, like him.

“There are no descendants,” he said, “here, I have many grandchildren.”


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