Monday, December 23, 2002

Italy baffled by its low birthrate

Italians continually cite the expense of children, but as a society, Italy is much richer than it was in the aftermath of World War II, when its fertility rates were more than double what they are now. Unemployment has always been higher than in other wealthy nations, but that can hardly explain why the well-fed Italians of the postwar years would have steadily fewer children than their parents.Part of the economic issue may have to do with a gap between the lifestyle Europeans expect and one they can afford. Salaries are lower than in the United States, and consumer goods can be more expensive. Like most Europeans, the average Italian has only two-thirds the wealth and purchasing power of the average American, according to the World Bank.

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