Covid-19 effect: Italy sees huge drop in births and weddings in 2020

Gap between births and deaths in Italy widened further in 2020.

Italy recorded around 400,000 births in 2020 (down from 420,000 in 2019) and 700,000 deaths (up from 647,000 compared to the year before), the widest gap since 1918 during the Spanish flu epidemic, according to new data released by the national statistics agency ISTAT.

A similarly high death rate has only been recorded "in 1920 and during world war two," said ISTAT president Gian Carlo Blangiardo, while last year's birth rate is the lowest since records began 150 years ago, reports Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Births in Italy in December - exactly nine months after the country went into lockdown due to the coronavirus - fell by 21.6 per cent, according to data from a sample of 15 Italian cities released by ISTAT, reports news agency Reuters.

ISTAT chief Blangiardo believes this is a result of the "uncertainty" surrounding the pandemic, likening it to the significant fall-off in births in February 1987 after the Chernobyl disaster the previous year.

It also reflects a general decline in births in Europe in 2020, due to the impact of covid-19 lockdowns, however the overall data is not yet complete.

Births were not to only thing to plummet in Italy in 2020, according to ISTAT.

Marriages fell by more than half, with 85,000 weddings celebrated compared to 170,000 the previous year, reports La Stampa.

This in turn is likely to be "a further factor in a probable decline in births in the immediate future," said ISTAT chief Blangiardo.

Separately, the covid-19 crisis and lockdowns have been blamed for a 60 per cent increase in separation requests between 2019 and 2020, according to the Italian association of divorce lawyers, reports Italian news agency ANSA.