At the 2001 census the Italian population amounted to 56,995,744 residents, with an increase of just 0.4% compared to 1991. This figure was the result of differentiated trends for the large geographical areas: in particular, the North grew by 1%, the Center was substantially stable and the South showed a very slight decline (−0.1%). Compared to the Eighties, there was a clear reversal of the trend both for the northern areas, which had then lost about 1.4% of their residents, and for those in the Center-South, which still exhibited positive dynamics. It was in the North-East that the most significant population increases of the decade 1991-2001 were recorded (with Trentino-Alto Adige at 5.6% and Veneto at 3.4%), while in the Center the Marche emerged (2, 9%). On the other hand, the most noticeable drops concerned Liguria (−6.2%), Molise (−3.1%) and Calabria (−2.8%). The analysis of the trend of the demographic dynamics is complicated by the difficult interpretation of the subsequent registry data, according to which the Italian population reached 58,751,711 residents at the end of 2005. The difference is attributable at least in part to administrative factors, which primarily concern the amnesty of irregular immigrants (with the emergence of a large share of the population already residing in the country, but not registered) and also various registry adjustments subsequent to the census.
On a national scale, the natural balance has been constantly negative, with the sole exception of 2004. The trend is the result of largely deficient budgets in the regions of the Center-North, which cannot be remedied by the prevalent content of births in the South and on the islands. The average birth rate, after hitting a minimum of 9.2 ‰, rose slightly (9.5 ‰ in 2005), with a minimum for the central regions and a maximum for the southern ones, with internal fluctuations that appear to be slightly bill. In fact, the distribution of the timid signs of recovery in the generational turnover clearly suggests the contribution made by immigrants to general fertility, which has risen in a decade from 1.19 to 1.33 children per woman, while remaining among the lowest in the population. Europe.
Mortality has now stood at 9.5 ‰, with slightly higher differences in the central-northern regions, more affected by senilization and the negative effects of pollution on health, and lower peaks in the South and on the islands, where the juvenile contingents are better represented. Overall, the longevity of Italians has made further progress: life expectancy has risen beyond 77 years for men and 83 for women. The result is the consolidation of the aging process with a constantly growing ratio between the population aged at least 65 and under 15, reaching 138 in 2005 (by far the highest in Europe); and since 2004 for the first time also in the southern regions (with the exclusion of Campania) the over sixty-five have exceeded the population under the age of 15. This rapid growth in the share of elderly people, particularly felt in Liguria and in other regions of the Center-North, has made the budget of pension expenditure more and more problematic, forcing governments to make subsequent adjustments to the legislation, and also weighs on health care costs and on those of assistance to the non self-sufficient population, involving – among other things – a consistent flow of carers from abroad. Together with the changes in some social behaviors (including the increase in divorces), the growth of the elderly is also reflected in the structure of the family cell, which is now reduced to an average of 2.5 members.
Given the stabilization of natural balances on modest or negative values, the population increase marked by some regions is substantially connected to the distribution of migratory movements. As for the internal component of these movements, at the opening of the 21st century. consistent positive balances are observed for the central areas and especially for the northern ones, against a negative figure for the South. In the context of a tendential increase in both intra- and interregional mobility, it is regions such as Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany and Lombardy that confirm themselves as the main attractors of flows, while the southern regions lose a total of about 50,000 individuals per year.. A phenomenon, which is numerically limited, but rather significant due to the potential negative impact on economic development, is given by the flow of young graduates (some tens of thousands) who leave the country to move to the prestigious research and economic ganglia in Western Europe and the United States. However, the real rudder of demographic dynamics is increasingly constituted by the extent and nature of immigration, which includes over 5% of the country’s residents.
The calculation of the foreign population settled in Italy, despite having made the crossing between different sources of survey, is still approximate: this is clearly demonstrated by the unexpected upsurge recorded on the occasion of the various amnesties. Even the most recent measures, the l. July 30, 2002 n. 189 (known as the Bossi-Fini law), have largely changed the already known picture of immigration, bringing out more than 600,000 individuals and revolutionizing the ranking of the most numerous nationalities. At the end of 2005, with the regularization procedures now completed, the amount of immigrants in accordance with the law can be estimated at almost 2.4 million, to which should be added a further 25% of illegal immigrants for various reasons: for a total estimate of 3 millions. This figure would now place the peninsula in fourth place in Europe for the absolute number of foreigners after Germany, France and Spain. Their incidence on residents varies greatly between large territorial groups: maximum in the North-East (around 6%) and slightly lower in the North-West, it is in line with the national average of 5.2% in the Center and long less significant (1.4%) in the South and in the islands. The maximum concentration is reached in the provinces of Rome and Milan, which alone attract over a fifth of immigrants. 2% in the Center and far less significant (1.4%) in the South and the islands. The maximum concentration is reached in the provinces of Rome and Milan, which alone attract over a fifth of immigrants. 2% in the Center and far less significant (1.4%) in the South and the islands. The maximum concentration is reached in the provinces of Rome and Milan, which alone attract over a fifth of immigrants.
After an initial momentum of African presences, the migration scene is now dominated by the European component, which includes 5 out of 10 foreigners, while 2 move from the black continent, as many from Asia and one from America. On the religious level, the new arrivals are half Christians (divided equally between Catholics and Orthodox) and one third Muslims. The most numerous nationality (11.9 %) is the Romanian one, which has recently overtaken the Albanian group (11.7) and the Moroccan one (10.3), while the 2002 amnesty has led to the emergence of Ukrainian immigration en masse. (5.2) formed mainly of carers and family collaborators. This occupation, and those in the world of services in general, widely characterize foreign presences, especially in urban environments, while the industrial sector welcomes another substantial share of immigrants in the North and the primary is the dominant employment sector in the South.. By now 1 out of 10 of the workers reported to INAIL were born abroad and 1 out of 6 among the newly employed.
While in the past the Italy was the scene of a consistent migration of transit directed towards more prosperous countries of central-western Europe, it has now become a stable final destination for most of the flows that interest it: this is testified by the amount of family reunification, with the rebalancing between the sexes and the increase in the number of minors. The immigrant population is a young population, comprised of 70 % between the ages of 15 and 44, and accounts for a share in terms of births (about 9%) almost double the total weight of the foreign component on residents. If on the one hand the accentuation of stabilization strengthens the work and contribution base and initiates more solid integration paths, on the other hand it exalts the scarcity of public resources destined for reception, aggravates the pressure on the housing market and offers ideas for repeated episodes of discrimination and xenophobic impulses channeled above all by some political forces.
Compared to the most advanced European economies, the country denounces delays in the education sector, delays dense with consequences on the qualification of work potential: in fact, a good 28 % of Italians are still in elementary studies and less than a third have a higher education, while graduates do not exceed 9 %. In the university field, in particular, the reform that instituted two types of qualifications made it possible to double the number of graduates and graduates in a five-year period (300,000 in 2004-05); but investments in universities and research, equal to 1.1 % of GDP, are still half of the quotas committed by Germany and France: insignificant compared to the 3 % taken as an objective to support development as well as innovation in the community. The urban population remains close to 67 % of the total, but this value has lost its significance in the face of the radical transformation of the settlement logic that has affected a large part of the country. In fact, since the beginning of the nineties the centers with over 100,000 ab. they continued to lose residents, albeit at a generally slower rate than in the previous decade, while the demographic weight of their surroundings has moderately increased. Modest positive balances show only Prato, thanks to robust Chinese immigration, and the conurbation of the Strait (Reggio di Calabria-Messina), on the outskirts of which the rural exodus persists. The case of the province around the capital is also singular: the population grows over 10%, invading the empty residues of the great metropolitan ring. The fate of the major urban centers was associated, in a process that began in the 1980s, with that of the middle centers, also affected by the decline of a population which is rather thickening the smaller meshes of an increasingly tight network, especially in some regions of more intense economic and social dynamism.
Italy therefore proceeds decisively towards a widespread urbanization model, where the polarities are multiplied by the decentralization of production plants and, increasingly, by that of large consumer attractors and service systems. It is a process that forcefully equates living standards, but has the cost of a marked intensification of commuting and a massive consumption of land, also due to the use of low-density urban planning formulas (the ‘villettisation’, elective of the North-East).
In this phase, both the processes of reuse of urban spaces made available by the release of the industrial apparatus and the investments aimed at improving the urban image were intense. A new season of urban research and architectural design has begun, also in relation both with functional reconversions and with the organization of major events (this is the case, for example, in Turin with the 2006 Winter Olympics). Likewise, in the repetition of cultural events (festivals, art exhibitions, white nights, etc.), an attempt was made to develop strategies for relaunching urban spaces, especially central ones. Moreover, large Italian cities show widespread problems linked to the presence of substantial pockets of social marginalization, especially in certain suburbs, and recurring inconveniences in daily life, above all due to cumbersome traffic patterns and high levels of pollution. The closure of areas to private traffic, periodic traffic blocks, the use of methane public transport and the construction of new subways (Naples, Turin) oppose these inconveniences only few barriers.