On March 17, 2021, the 160th anniversary of the unification of Italy was celebrated. Topic of my reflection ten years ago, on the occasion of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary. Today I want to return to the topic not by immersing myself in the part that fascinates me most, that is the Risorgimento, but by deepening a series of information and numbers to give the picture of how “we were” and how “we” became. 1861
The first elections for 443 deputies of the Kingdom are held on January 27, 1861. But it is a very different type of vote from today. The country was much younger at the time, the average age was 27 and even younger. We remember that there is no north east (still Austrian) and all of Lazio, which has remained with the Pope.
The population of 27 million and 778 thousand inhabitants, have the right to vote males, be at least 25 years old, know how to read and write and have paid at least 40 lire (about 180 euros today) in a year.
All conditions which, in a poor nation where illiteracy fluctuates between 42% in Piedmont and 88% in Basilicata, make a very tough selection. Those entitled to vote are in fact just 1.9% of the population but only 240,000 citizens go to vote, about 1% of Italians. 1871
Ours still remains a country with more men than women, like Belgium and America, veterans of the civil war that began ten years earlier and that for almost a decade soiled the Americas.
In the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in Great Britain and in France, the majority of the population is female. And, while the illiterate continue to be 67% of citizens over 10 years of age, in the United States they are 20.0% and in Prussia just 14%.
Italy remains very poor. The per capita annual income is just 315 lire (1,343 euros today) and which in today’s times would place us under Tanzania and above Burkina Faso! On the other hand, the public accounts are in surplus. In 1871 the budget of the Kingdom of Italy recorded a surplus of 75 million lire, equal to about 300 million euros today. 1901
And the year of the great escape, emigration takes on enormous. In the first ten years of the new century, an average of 600,000 people leave Italy every year. The United States represents the main destination of 43% of emigrants.
On the other hand, foreigners in Italy, in that period, were about 60 thousand, only 190 for every hundred thousand inhabitants; in France 2,748 can be registered and in Germany 1,381. The Italian region where there are more immigrants is Liguria, followed by Lombardy and the province of Rome.
Foreigners officially resident in Italy as of 31/12/2009 were 4,236,000 i.e. 7,019 per hundred thousand inhabitants, 37 times more than in 1901 of course but still much less, in relation to the population, compared for example to those who had, at the beginning of the last century Switzerland, where every hundred thousand Swiss we find 11,532 foreigners.
In those years the families made up of a single person were l / 8.8% and they are 28% today. There were cars and electricity, not to mention telephones. In a country where barely 51% of the inhabitants knew how to read, there were already a hundred public telephone posts.
The per capita GDP was equal to the current value of 1,600 euros, compared to around 25,000 today.
However, agriculture still absorbed 38% of the workforce and the public administration was extremely lean. There were 178,000 employees without counting the teachers. Women were a rarity, barely 5065. Today the corresponding workforce in the PA exceeds two and a half million and women represent 565 of the total. 1921
On the eve of fascism, the Italian GDP reached a level comparable to 5% of that of 2009. In the first sixty years the real growth of our economy was modest, the GDP rose by about 50%, or less than one percent on average per year.
In 1921 there were 34,140 cars throughout the Kingdom of Italy, less than one (0.86) per thousand inhabitants, which in the meantime, also thanks to the territorial expansion following the First World War, exceeded 38 million.
In 2009 the cars circulating on our territory had exceeded 36 million, that is over 600 for every thousand inhabitants, the highest ratio in the world with the only exceptions of Iceland and the Principality of Monaco.
The most congested Italian city is Rome with over 700 cars on the road for every thousand inhabitants. The families who, at that time, lived in a rented house were 48.4%. 1951
In 1946, finally, women also had the right to vote and were able to express themselves in the monarchy / republic referendum. With the fall of fascism, even the mayors have now taken the place of the podesta. The national territory, following the defeat in the Second World War, has shrunk a little again but the population has grown to reach 47 million inhabitants.
The economic boom is preparing, illiteracy has dropped to 13% of the population, but the number of graduates is still very modest. In fact, 1% of the population graduates, today they are over 10 times more. But in Italy, graduates are still half of the rest of the European Union: 11.7% of males between 25 and 65 years, against 23%. More educated than men, in Italy, are women, 18.9% of whom have a degree.
In the country that has become a republican, fewer than 150,000 cars were circulating, but they would soon be destined to fill any empty space. In 1951 there were already 425,284. A succulent appetizer of what would have been the economic boom. 2011
In these 150 years we have certainly become richer, each of us can count on an average income equal to what 22 Italians had in 1861.
More than half a century of virtually uninterrupted economic growth !!
The agrarian reform, the post-war reconstruction, the desire for redemption of the Italians of the past, the Cassa del Mezzogiorno was born to reduce the gap, (which grew dramatically during the 20s), the mass school was established, the television arrived .
In a nutshell, modernization began, with its pros, more widespread wealth, healthier and more attentive but also with 8% of overbuilding, our graduates are the destination that in the rest of Europe, youth unemployment is 30% and the differences between North and South are accentuated.
Besides, alas, we are even older! The oldest in Europe. The figure, 14,902 the number of people over 100 years of age. Our average age is 43 and has increased by 61% compared to a century and a half ago. 20% of the population is over 65 years old, compared to 4% in 1861 and 8% in 1951, young people under the age of 15 barely reach 14% while 150 years ago they were over a third of Italians and in 1951 they represented more than a quarter of the population.
In 2011, the old age index reached 143.4. It means that for every 100 young people there are 143.5 elderly people in our country. With an active population of 52%, the value is among the lowest in Europe.
In short, all this leads us to paraphrase in negative a celebrated phrase “We are a country for old people”! 2021
From 2011 to today there are still many transformations experienced.
In the world, from a political point of view, many things have happened and have changed the perception of solutions to problems. Ideological oppositions return, without however the fervor of true ideological passion, which demonstrates how in our country the clocks of history seem to have stopped in the 45/50 years.
We have therefore seen the birth of the so-called “populisms” in Europe but also outside the borders of the old continent, driven by the first real crisis of capitalism intended as profit first of all, accentuating an ever more acute and penetrating individualism. It was therefore easy to ride the wave of social unease, without however making a true analysis in giving concrete solutions.
It was thought at one point that competence was just an “elitist” burden, pushing “fake” one is worth one and riding once again the wave of executioners and the media pillory (to return today to apologize because now the populist of yesterday it became the most chaste caste of today… too easy that way).
Furthermore, ten years ago the web was already present copiously in our daily life but from a brilliant intuition, from a very useful tool of modernization, from opportunities for knowledge, for widespread diffusion and rapidity of news, today, we can affirm, without fear of denial, that, a large part of it, has now become a world apart, identical to itself, a uniform miscellany where everything has equal value, the low and the high, the good and the evil, the true and the false, where one arises overwhelming superficiality, hatred, rancor, hatred, envy, in short, the diseases of ignorance.
We have returned to returning illiteracy. According to Istat, it must be considered that, in the last decade, parallel to the digital revolution, there has been a growing disaffection towards reading. In the case of books, for example, in less than 10 years, from 2010 (peak year of the share of readers) to 2019, the share of readers fell from 45.2 percent to 38.4 percent (of the total population aged 18 and over), with a decline that particularly affected the age group between 35 and 64 years, as well as children and adolescents.
The concept of competence is slowly disintegrating, many, on the web, are all-rounders and it has now also become a harbinger of the worst human impulses that lead, to say the least, into the most dangerous inconsistency to the point of fueling the most dangerous actions. Also on this challenge, that is, to nourish and preserve the “good” digitization of things, our country must win the challenge for tomorrow.
But I will not dwell any further on socio-political and economic analyzes which can be topics for other reflections but on the data that have characterized the last decade.
Returning to the numbers, therefore, in Italy, this period was characterized by very low growth rates, even in comparison with the already low average of Western countries and, in particular, European countries. The average growth rate of GDP in the last decade has in fact been 0.26% on average, against 1.7% in the European Union as a whole.
Furthermore, Italy has been strongly affected by the crisis with a heavy contraction in domestic demand, not offset by exports, on which a substantial part of its economy is based, due to the global slowdown. In particular, Italy was one of the few countries to record negative growth and it was among the G7 countries that suffered a greater contraction in gross domestic product.
The Italian population, (again Istat source), as of 1 January 2021 numbered 59,258,000 people, about 384,000 fewer than those of a year ago. During 2020 there was a record low of births, a high number of deaths, a low migratory balance and the average age has risen further.
In 2020 for the seventh consecutive year the Italian population dropped: it has gone from a record of 60.3 million residents in 2014 to 59.3 million now. During 2020, all regions saw a decline in population with the exception of Trentino-Alto Adige. The decline affected all areas of Italy, but especially the South (-0.7%) compared to the Center (-0.64%) and the North (-0.6%). Molise (-1.3%) and Basilicata (-1.0%) are the most affected regions and among those in the North stand out Piedmont (-0.9%), Valle d’Aosta (-0.9%) and above all Liguria (-1%).
Then … in 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, with all that followed. On March 17, precisely on the occasion of the celebrations of the 160th anniversary of the unification of Italy, the “Day of national unity, the Constitution, the anthem and the flag, President Mattarella recalled that” the crowning of the Risorgimento dream it sealed the identity of a nation, which originates from our most ancient history and our culture. The generations that preceded us, overcoming the most difficult moments together, have given us a free, prosperous and united country ”.
Furthermore, he stated that “Italy, hit hard by the health emergency, has once again demonstrated a spirit of democracy, unity and cohesion”. Finally, “the republic, by choice of the Italians, is the highest expression of national unity and the anthem and the flag are the most cherished and recognized symbols of our homeland. The celebration again exhorts us to a common and shared commitment, within the framework of the European project, to build a more united and solid country, a necessary condition for renewed prosperity and equitable and sustainable development ”
It is therefore time for decisive choices and not low repositioning games to have a little visibility and a few more followers. We must all improve, all without exception. Being able to decisively scratch both an asphyxiating and unproductive bureaucracy and the always eternal Italian cunning that leads, as unfortunately we can also see in these days, to very avoidable tragedies.
From those who have public responsibilities to the ordinary citizen, all categories, all the actors of both public and private key sectors, no one can desert! Overcoming atavistic corporatism and preserving the status quo at all costs.
Large-scale projects and concrete and competent planning of projects and reforms to be done otherwise even the funds of the Next generation Eu can be at risk. Perhaps he has forgotten that the funds will come if the projects and reforms are valid, useful, achievable. For example, on justice, taxation and competition, obtaining the funds will not be so easy.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Italian republic, if we really want to honor the Res Publica, let us remember that a better Italy cannot exist without better men and women.

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