Despite yet another negative birth record, fertility remains constant at the level expressed in 2018, i.e. 1.29 children per woman. This is because the annual number of births is linked not only to the reproductive levels of the mothers but also to their absolute and structural dimension. This is what emerges from the Istat Report on ‘Demographic indicators for 2019 ‘. In the last two years, in particular, Istat notes, among women resident of childbearing age (conventionally 15-49 years) it is estimated a reduction of approximately 180 thousand units.
In addition to this factor, it should then be recalled that the specific fertility rates by age of the mother continue to show a substantial decline in the young age (up to about 30 years) and a progressive increase in the older ones (after 30). The average age at childbirth reached 32.1 years, also because in the meantime the fertility expressed by 35-39 year old women has exceeded that of 25-29 year olds. Not only that, women over 40 have more children than young women under 20 years of age, while the gap with 20-24 year olds has been almost completely absorbed.
The contribution to the birth rate of immigrants is significant. About a fifth of the births that occurred in 2019, in fact, continues Istat, are from a foreign mother. Of these, equal to a total of 85 thousand, 63 thousand are those produced with foreign partners (which therefore increase the number of people born in Italy with foreign citizenship), 22 thousand with Italian partners. 349 thousand were born to Italian citizens, of which 341 thousand with compatriot partners and about 8 thousand with foreign partners.
Like the general one, the birth rate is decreasing for all types of couples. Foreign women, who usually show more marked reproductive behavior and are favored by a younger age structure, had an average of 1.89 children (compared to 1.94 in 2018). The Italians, for their part, with 1.22 children remained roughly the same level as the previous year (1.21). In the meantime, the average age at childbirth rises by a further decimal point for both foreigners and Italians. The former, usually precocious, procreate on average around 29.1 years of age. The Italian women, as known later, have 32.6 years as a central reference.
In 2019, as for some years now, the highest fertility occurs in the north of the country (1.36 children per woman), well ahead of that in the South (1.26) and in the Center (1.25). The primacy of the most prolific area belongs to the Province of Bolzano with 1.69 children per woman, which precedes Trento with 1.43. Apart from these two specific realities of the Northeast, the area where the propensity to have children is highest is in the Lombardy (1.36), Emilia-Romagna (1.35) and Veneto (1.32) triangle, evoking a fair correlation between reproductive intentions and potential guaranteed by greater economic and social development of these regions.