Italy's birth rate falls to historic low

Italy's birth rate falls to historic low

Almost 17,000 fewer babies were born in Italy last year compared with 2014, central statistics agency Istat said on Monday. The 485,780 births registered in 2015 was the lowest number in any year since the modern state was founded 154 years ago.

Births fell the most among Italian couples in 2015, but also among those where one parent was Italian and one foreign, and among immigrant couples, according to Istat.

The biggest group of foreign mothers were Romanians, followed by Moroccan, Albanian and Chinese women, Istat said.

Istat said a total of 91,000 fewer babies were born last year than in 2008, before the start of Italy's most prolonged economic crisis in the post war-period.

The birth rate fell in all Italian regions over the seven-year period, said Istat.

The falling birth rate between 2008 and 2015 owed in part to the 52,000 fewer marriages and nearly 120,000 fewer babies born in wedlock over the period, Istat reported.

Almost 120,000 babies were born in Italy last year to parents who where not married - almost 29 percent - while in central and northern Italy more than 31 percent of babies were born out of wedlock, Istat said.

Italian women are having children later, with more mothers aged 40 and above (9.3 percent) last year than those under 25 (8.2 percent), Istat said.