In 2100, the Italians will be today’s destination. This is a reduction of the population which, to some extent, to some, will affect practically all advanced economies but in this case we cannot say “bad common half joy”. Indeed, we are in the vicinity of an almost unique change since the appearance of Homo sapiens on Earth.
According to a study by the prestigious scientific journal The Lancet, in fact, the reduction of the Italian population falls (as in the case of the black jersey) within a wider contraction of the world population which, from the expected peak around 2064, should decrease by 2 billion. around 2100.
On that date, then, the Italian population should be halved compared to the current one, reducing us to a small-scale power. All this without taking into account the possibility of other pandemics, wars and without a liberal policy regarding immigration.
The 21st century will therefore bring about a new profound mutation for the population and human civilization. On a global scale, according to the Lancet study, it will drop from the current 2.37 children per woman to 1.66 at the end of the century, therefore below the threshold necessary to maintain a constant population, set at 2.1.
In fact, researchers predict that the spread of higher educational levels and contraception techniques will continue to fuel the decline in fertility, which will only be partially offset by the increase in life expectancy, which will approach 80 years globally. .
The economic effects of this reduction will involve Italy even more than other countries, making our economy fall to 25th place in the world, a decrease that will only marginally affect other states such as France and the UK. Similarly, the sharp decline in births in Africa will be offset by a radical reduction in the death rate, allowing the continent to triple its population.
Now, even if the study by The Lancet outlines a long-term scenario, the premises of what is expected in 2100 are already visible today. The positive aspect is however that it highlights the main criticisms of the various countries so that they can already identify the impacting strategies to deal with them.
First of all, a serious policy aimed at immigration and integration into our society will be needed. The ostracism of recent years in this regard produces nothing but effects contrary to our social and economic development which, on the contrary, contribute to further disintegrating the tissues. Parallel to this, in the absence of a sufficiently large base of citizens, the welfare state to which we have become accustomed in recent decades will necessarily have to be rethought in a more reduced form.
A first buffer solution to this scenario must be the implementation of digital tools both in public administration and in private activities that offer services to citizens. In fact, the priority of this line of action must be the simplification of procedures combined with greater efficiency of both resources and human capital. An example from which to take a first starting point is the Japanese one, which for years has been trying to contrast the progressive aging of the population with automation and greater efficiency (the case of vending machines is emblematic). In a word, it is about increasing the overall productivity of the system.
These initiatives, however, although capable of producing some important economic and social support effects, cannot be considered sufficient to counter the decline referred to in The Lancet. The priority is to immediately initiate policies to support youth and female employment and incentives for new families. The rescue of our social fabric (and therefore also of the economic one) cannot ignore its very preservation which lays the foundations for its relaunch. Italy needs a new welfare state, not happy degrowth
Last summer, while we were enjoying some form of “freedom” from the pandemic that, at that time, seemed to be even defeated, two very significant data emerged which were given some resonance only to then drop them into thin air and on which I’d like to turn the spotlight back on.
The first was that relating to the birth rate which in Italy fell, compared to the already low one in 2018, by a further 4.5%, for about 19 thousand fewer babies. A negative record from Unita to today.
The second fact, contextual and contingent, told us that for the first time the number of retirees had exceeded that of active workers.
Of course, this second datum, in particular, elaborated by the CGIA of Mestre and also to be attributed to the decrease in hiring and closures due to Covid19. However, the aggregate trend appears to be more than delineated and promises a social and welfare system, decidedly unbalanced towards the mature age and less and less inclined towards young people. and a country destined to decline, even rapidly, and to the general unsustainability for the state coffers to face a condition that, without structural interventions, is destined to worsen over time.
Having said that, there are essentially two paths left: accepting what less and less resembles a “happy degrowth”, often even invoked, or rebelling in a strong and resolute way against a destiny that only apparently appears to have been established.
In Italy, public interventions aimed at extending the working life are only a partial solution to the problem. Instead, we need concrete impact policies in support of the family, birth, youth work and women’s work, increasingly discriminated against, more than ever in the time of covid. Until we succeed in modernizing our country in this direction, perhaps taking a cue from the efficient models of Northern Europe, the trend cannot be reversed but, on the contrary, worsen. It is obvious, in fact, that in order to support a welfare state whose audience is increasingly large, the residual active population will have to take further responsibility for this situation.
Young Italians are increasingly linked to their family of origin and are not very inclined to make a new one. Of course, we are a people of “mammoni”, fond of the “nest” in which we were born and raised, so to speak, little used to challenges and inconveniences but, in general, often very little stimulated and encouraged to take flight with the our wings. Today, earning a degree is no longer synonymous with work nor, much less, with a permanent job and starting a family involves a considerable expense for which it is necessary to think about it very carefully. Of course, many young Italians are fleeing from responsibilities preferring to live an eternal happy hour until at least forty years old but, in general, fears of the future are more pressing.
What we need in Italy is not a social-generational clash, but a pact between generations and active policies aimed at families, incentives, concessions and the creation of real job opportunities that go in parallel with a reduction in costs for businesses. In our society there is a need for solidarity, because the “welfare state” is a self-sustaining circle: those who invest in their future today will be able to benefit from it later and, in turn, make the entire system sustainable for generations. come. For a less bleak future
Ultimately, the message that must be conveyed at this stage is that the sustainability of our country is in great danger and the solution cannot be to keep 70-year-olds at work, while their grandchildren replenish the ranks of NEETs (people who they study and work).
Italy needs a new and broad public economic and social development plan that puts individuals at the center, with policies aimed at young people, women and families for greater social equity and triggering a sustainable development mechanism in the medium term. in which companies can also participate, to be considered allies of the company in this challenge and not opposing bodies.
After the time of spending, as Draghi defined the current phase of economic and social policy, the time dedicated to reabsorb the resources now distributed for substantially welfare purposes, to finance selective and high-impact investment policies (infrastructures, new technologies, education and training, large public-private joint ventures, etc.) in order to counter our decline.
If this is the direction, we will soon see it with the National Recovery and Resilience Plan that Italy must present in a few weeks to the European Commission as part of the Next Generation EU.
It will be the real test of any serious relaunch policy. Only then will we be able to measure the commitment to change, overcoming the actions aimed at acquiring consensus, through a public donation (including amnesties) of absolute ineffectiveness for growth in the medium and long term. And so we can begin to imagine our future, so that it is less bleak than forecasts.

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