ROME, December 23, 2002 ( – Despite tax-funded childcare and paid leave for both parents, Italians are now competing with Spaniards for the world’s lowest birthrate. With birthrates around half of the 2.1 child-per-woman replacement rate,  the European Union reports that Europe can expect to “suffer a net loss of as many as 70 million people by 2050.  “Most people don’t understand how bad it is,” Valerio Terra Abrami, a senior demographer at Italy’s Institute of National Statistics, told reporters. “Every year I give one or two interviews saying the same thing, but nothing happens.” Only with the advent of the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi has Parliament brought in a bill to pay families a $500 monthly incentive during the first two years of each child’s life.  Since the advent of revolutionary anti-clerical nationalism in Italy in the 1840s—but particularly following the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s—a growing number of Italians have stopped practising the Catholic faith. Last month, Pope John Paul II, in his first-ever speech to Parliament, called the collapsing birthrate a “crisis” and “another grave threat that bears upon the future of this country…”  To read a media report see:   For related coverage see:  SCOTTISH BIRTH RATE HITS ALL TIME LOW UK BIRTH RATE PLUMMETS FERTILITY RATES: CANADA IN DECLINE BUT U.S. ON THE RISE HEALTH MINISTER SAYS “JAPANESE RACE” WILL SOON BE EXTINCT


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