Italy is facing a bleak demographic future. It has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world and even its Health Minister has warned of an impending population “apocalypse”. The latest predictions from the Italian Statistics Agency, Istat, contained in a report entitled “The Demographic Future of the Country” have just been released.

The agency predicts that the current population of just shy of 61 million people will drop by at least seven million in the next 50 years. The actual predictions range from the highest population in 2065 of 61.5 million, to a lowest of 46.1 million. That is, the range over the next 50 years is from very slight increase to a collapse in the country’s population by 25 percent. Furthermore, even the top end is very unlikely: Istat thinks that there is only a seven percent chance that Italy’s population will grow over the next 50 years.

The reason for this predicted population decline in the coming decades is simple. It is that births, although expected to rise somewhat, will continue to be outnumbered by deaths. This is even taking account the projected increased life span of Italians, which is expected to rise by about six years by 2065.

Not only will Italy be getting less populous and older, it will also be getting more North-heavy. Currently, the proportion of the population that live in the south of the peninsula and the islands is 34 percent. By 2065 that is expected to have declined to 29 percent as the southern regions see a steady decrease in their population. Of course, for worried Italian policy makers, there is always large scale immigration as a corrective to native population decline. That will work, surely?

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...