The family plays a fundamental role in society and is a vital resource not only for the people who are part of it but for the whole community. The International Day of Families is celebrated on 15 May. This was established in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly and invites us to reflect on the changes that this important resource has undergone over time, including the new forms of family that are now recognised (single-parent families, extended families, homogenous families), the phenomenon of a falling birth-rate, and the impact of the pandemic on life/work balance.
The 2022 International Day of Families shone a spotlight on a highly topical theme: families and urbanisation. This is a topic closely linked to other central themes in the debate on modern societies, including demographic and climate change, migration, and technological change.
According to ISTAT data from the recent Demographic Indicators report, the year 2021 saw, with 399,000 births, the historical milestone of the lowest birth rate ever recorded in the history of Italy. The more than well-established national issue of a low fertility rate has been linked with the effects of lockdown, generating even more uncertainty in family planning choices. The report says, "The pandemic factors, combined with the long-term national demographic issues, above all that of persistent low levels of fertility, have also exposed a very negative level of natural population balance in 2021. Following the record figure of a negative difference of 335,000 between births and deaths in 2020, this fell to 309,000 in 2021. The last year in which births and deaths were effectively in balance was 2006, which now seems like a long time ago".
The demographic decline is the common thread in the second meeting of the Stati Generali della Natalità, scheduled to take place on 12 and 13 May in Rome (in the Auditorium della Conciliazione, via della Conciliazione 4). This is an event promoted by the Fondazione per la natalità (Birth Rate Foundation), the Forum delle associazioni familiari (Forum of Family Associations) and the Minister for Family and Equal Opportunities, Elena Bonetti, to trigger a discussion on uniting the entire country under one system, to make proposals to try to reverse the demographic trend, and to come up with a new approach to family planning. Over the two days, institutional representatives, politicians, demographers, journalists, experts, and the representatives of associations and other bodies, will focus on the reconciliation of family life and work, healthcare, policies to encourage the birth rate, and many other topics. Speakers will include: Elena Bonetti, Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family, Patrizio Bianchi, Minister of Education, Licia Ronzulli, President of the Parliamentary Commission for Children and Adolescents, Nicola Zingaretti, President of the Lazio Region, and Gian Carlo Blangiardo, the President of ISTAT. The complete program is available on the website, www.statigeneralidellanatalita.it.
On the Day itself, we would like to suggest that you visit the website on the Assegno unico e universale (Universal Benefit Payment) for dependent children, www.auu.gov.it. The benefit, provided for by Law No. 46 of 1 April 2021, established by Legislative Decree No. 230 of 21 December 2021, and which entered into force on 1 January 2022, is available to every household, regardless of their economic situation, from the seventh month of pregnancy and for each dependent child up to the age of 21. The site also offers more in-depth information through links to the INPS website, which allows the amount that would be paid to be calculated and details on how to submit your application after the ISEE (Indicatore della situazione economica equivalente - Indicator of the equivalent economic status) has been calculated, and links to the Department for Family Policies website that goes into more detail about the benefit and its regulatory aspects.
The Department's website also includes a section on the family, which contains information on various topics such as family-work balance and financial contributions for families with children. The same section also has information on the "Demography and Covid-19" Expert Group, established in April 2020 by the Ministra per le pari opportunità e la famiglia (Minister for Equal Opportunities and the Family) with the aim of monitoring and analysing the impact of the health crisis on the Italian population, with particular regard to its impact on the birth rate, the implementation of life projects by young people, and the well-being of families with minors. The Expert Group has prepared two reports on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the birth rate and the new generation of citizens, both of which are available on the Department's website.
The following study materials selected by the Biblioteca Innocenti Library B.C. Moro are also worth reading: bibliographic research on families; bibliographic research on the evolution of the family; bibliographic research on single-parent families; bibliographic research on single-parent families; bibliographic research on immigrant families; bibliographic research on families with disabled children; bibliographic research on foster families; bibliographic research on vulnerable families.
For more detailed information on the family and social policies from the legal point of view, the regulatory framework created by the Centro nazionale di documentazione e analisi per l’infanzia e l’adolescenza (National Documentation and Analysis Centre for Children and Adolescents) is recommended.