In Wednesday’s rant, I argued that pretty Italy is a country of and for the old.
That is to say, in terms of opportunity for betterment, it’s a wasteland.
Italy is a country which the young (even if wealthy) are best advised to leave behind, in search of better prospects elsewhere.
All this, of course, is my way of marketing our newest ebook about the Italian diaspora, ‘La diaspora italiana – Italiani in Scozia‘.
But it’s true.
Educated parents with cash know it, so send their kids to study abroad at the first opportunity.
While the rest of us live out our lives here, oppressed by the tax burden required to pay for the healthcare and pensions of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, while despairing of the prospects for our own kids.
Yvonne, who lives in Australia, commented:
Daniel, I can read the passion in this ‘rant’. I know that politics is really messy and complicated in Italy, but are young people so turned off by the system that they don’t vote? Making people vote is totally uncontroversial here. ( In fact some wit suggested that putting the electoral commission in charge of vaccination would be the best answer to vaccine hesitancy.) Such an enormous shame that young well-educated people feel they have to vote with their feet.
It’s not that ‘young’ Italians are not interested in politics, absolutely not, Yvonne.
It’s the demographics!
I mentioned, I think, that there the ‘young’ are a minority in Italy.
But I appreciate that if you don’t live here, or in Japan which is in more or less the same boat, it’s difficult to comprehend.
“Oh look!” I’ll comment to my wife, “That women’s PREGNANT!”
Or as we walk around the lake and pass a father pushing a pram, “Did you see? Did you see? A BABY! Wasn’t it CUTE! A girl, right??”
(We’re really into babies, my wife and I.)
Italians who don’t travel abroad don’t appreciate just how OLD their country is.
And vistiors to Italy don’t get it, either, given that you don’t expect to have kids under your feet anyway when visiting art galleries or Roman ruins.
Or at least, not Italian kids. They’re all out in the suburbs, right? Probably in school.
Take a look at these numbers, which I found at http://www.comuni-italiani.it/statistiche/eta2017.html (they’re from 2017, but the situation hasn’t improved):
Numbers turn people off, I know, but everyone likes BABIES, right?
So take a look at the 0-4 band, then at the 70-74 band.
There were, in 2017, MORE people in their early seventies than pre-school-age children.
That’s not good.
(Well, I suppose it’s good that people live longer, but you know what I mean.)
For your edification, I adapted the data I got from the source linked to above to show the totals and percentages in each of three subjective age categories: ‘The Young’, so under 30; ‘The Middle’, so under 60; and ‘The Mature’, that’s everyone else.
Beh, put like that, it doesn’t seem so bad, right?
There are as many ‘young’ as ‘old’, and a larger ‘middle’.
What could be the problem??
So then I messed with my categories, reducing them to just two: under-forty and over-forty.
The data shows that two fifths are under-forty, while three fifths are over-forty. If you prefer percentages to fractions, look at the table.
BUT, BUT, BUT!
Of the approximately twenty-five million under-forties, perhaps nine to ten million are under eighteen years of age.
Which means they don’t vote.
So we have around fifteen million voting under-forties, versus approximately thirty-six million voting over-forties.
And everyone knows that older voters have more to lose, and more apprectiation that voting is the way to ensure things keep going their way.
While the young are fretting about climate change and eating vegan, older voters are resisting any increase in the minimum retirement age, so their golden years are as extended a period as possible, hang the climate!
Ok, so some of the older voters, concerned about their kids and grandkids, will back policies that prioritise opportunities for the young over their own interests – these typically being, to retire as early as possible, then live on the heftiest slice of the tax pie they are able to get away with.
But not many.
Given that Italians have so few kids, and many have none at all, it’s “I’m all right Jack!”
Meaning that the issues on the political agenda are overwhelmingly those that matter to the majority, the old.
“Who would want to leave Italy for Scotland?” as my correspondent asked earlier in the week?
Basically, anyone between twenty-four (end of college degree and fun times) and thirty-four (beginning of family life).
See the problem now?
Here’s a final reminder about this week’s new easy reader ebook, ‘La diaspora italiana – Italiani in Scozia‘.
From the Roman empire to the European Union, find out more about the Italians who made their homes in a land which couldn’t be more different from their own. A place of great natural beauty, though with a challenging climate and strange food, a destination that offered them the economic opportunities and stability not found at home, amongst a local population who were welcoming, if at first difficult to communicate with due to the sometimes incomprehensible local accent – Scotland!
‘La diaspora italiana – Italiani in Scozia‘ just £5.99 | FREE sample chapter (.pdf) | Catalog
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Granted it’s unfair that the younger generation have to suffer so severely to support retirees living in comfort, but with ten billion mouths to feed and growing, telling people to have more children will only make matters even worse for the next generation. Having as many children as possible to support you in your dotage will never be a sustainable option. That applies worldwide, not just in Italy. Incidentally, if more young people voted in Britain, we’d still be in the EU and I’d be able to enjoy my retirement in the sun rather than in soaking ol’ England.
Expats were excluded from the vote, too (after 15 years of non-residence). I didn’t get a say about Brexit, nor my three kids.
Sounds obscene. What about the Italian diaspora? Can they vote in Italian elections? What’s more important, I guess, is even if they can, do they? As I mentioned earlier, compulsory voting is just so uncontroversial here in Australia. But here too there are continuing arguments about this generational divide – largely focussing on the inability of young people to buy houses in the big cities because ‘old’ people are now sitting on housing which has increased by exorbitant amounts over their lifetime. And owning a home here is a bit like a religion. No capital gains tax if you sell. No death tax when you die. Not counted in your assets when you apply for a pension.
I’m with John, just having more children is destructive to the planet. It might help sustain pension payments but I thought we were starting to learn that our economic needs are often not in the interest of keeping a planet alive on which to live.
I was lucky enough to manage to retire here (to Italy – which is a wonderful country even though it has very many challenges) just before Brexit messed it all up. Because of Covid and a very rural life meeting Italians has been a challenge (apart from shop assistants and waiters) but the small number of new Italian friends I have all say they won’t vote in the next election because there’s no-one worth voting for. They are a mixed age group from both the under and over 40’s, but all are equally disillusioned.
The one pregnant Italian friend I have, had to pay about €1000 for scans and tests that in the UK would be free and can’t wait to emigrate to Germany or Holland.
The age of the voters does matter, but they also have to have someone worth voting for and the politicians here just don’t seem to do anything they promise – not that that’s any different to the UK.