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The demographic time bomb hit Italy so hard that a kindergarten turned into a nursing home – and it’s a sign of changes to come.

Kelsie Sandoval,Anna Medaris Miller
Tue, May 25, 2021, 3:32 PM·3 min read
Pregnant woman

Global fertility rates have been declining, with one study saying populations will shrink by 2100.

The population of Capracotta, a small town in Italy, has more than halved since 1991, to just 800 people.

Experts say there are various reasons why couples are choosing to delay or opt out of parenting.

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In Capracotta, a small town in Italy, a building once used for kindergarten classes has turned into a nursing home.

“There were so many families, so many children,” Concetta D’Andrea, a nursing home resident, told the New York Times. “Now there is no one.”

While some experts worry the world will soon face a “demographic time bomb,” it seems to have already landed in some Italian towns. Capracotta’s population has more than halved since 1991. Activities that keep a city bustling, like shops and local sports, have closed or come to a halt.

In Agnone, another small town in Italy, former maternity ward nurse Enrica Sciullo told the New York Times she doesn’t hear babies’ cries anymore. The medical department has closed out of lack of need.

“Once you could hear the babies in the nursery cry, and it was like music,” Sciullo told the New York Times. “Now there is silence and a feeling of emptiness.”

Fertility rates have declined worldwide for various reasons
In a study, published in 2020, researchers found that by 2100, nearly every country’s population will shrink or be halved.

Worldwide, the average woman had 4.7 kids in 1950. That number fell to 2.4 by 2017, and experts predict the trend will only go downward in the future.

In the US, a CDC report, published in 2021, found that fertility rates hit an all-time low in 2020, dropping 4% from 2019. Even before this record-setting low, the fertility rates have been tumbling down for decades.

Experts say there could be various reasons to explain why couples are having fewer children or opting out of parenting altogether. Some people may choose to delay pregnancy until their careers are more established, so they can financially support a family. Others are living kid-free in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Teen pregnancies are down, too.


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