Italy’s population declines in 2020 amid pandemic, lower immigrant arrivals

Italy’s population declined in 2020 for the third consecutive year to a total of 59,258,000 as of Jan. 1, 2021, the country’s National Statistics Institute (Istat) reported on Monday.

Istat said the figure was around 384,000 fewer than a year earlier, a decline of 0.64 percent.

Nearly a quarter of the decline came from a significant drop-off in the population of immigrants, which totaled nearly 80,000 last year, or around 1.3 per 1,000 residents — about half the rate of arrivals a year earlier, Istat noted.

Istat did not link the impact of the coronavirus pandemic with the change in population. But the country’s Ministry of Health reported that nearly 75,000 deaths were officially attributed to the pandemic, and media reports have speculated that the pandemic has put downward pressure on the country’s birthrate and on immigrant arrivals.

Istat’s data are lower than those from the United Nations, which estimated the country’s population to be at 60,461,826 last year, a 0.15 percent decline from the previous year. The UN figures are more likely to include people living in the country who are not official residents.

The country’s population is important for calculating per-capita figures. For example, as of Monday, 6,302,433 Italian residents had been completely vaccinated against the coronavirus, government figures showed. Based on Istat’s latest population data, that figure is the equivalent to 10.64 percent of the population, compared to 10.56 percent using the population data available before Monday.