Francis expressed at the February 7 Angelus concern over the “demographic winter” in Italy, lamented the low birth rates in the country, and warned that the “future is in danger.”
Hilary White observed on Twitter.com that low fertility rates are a global problem. She notices that this phenomenon started already in the mid 19th (article’s picture) and that chemical birth control didn't have that big an impact. It caused only a slight drop of the line but not enough to deviate much from its overall slope.
For White the drop in fertility started around 1850, with a shift from agriculture to industrialisation. In Italy this caused an emptying of the rural population into the cities, a campaign “deliberately orchestrated" by the government.
“There is certainly a massive correlation between abrupt, government-forced industrialisation - that included a programme of price fixing of agricultural products that forced small farmers out of competition - and fertility drops,” White explains.