It is very difficult to calculate the Italian population in past eras, especially before the nineteenth century, because the bases for the calculations are extremely uncertain. G. Beloch calculated the population of peninsular Italy (excluding Cisalpine Gaul and the islands) before the Hannibal war, at 5 million inhabitants, but the calculation, based on the information handed down to us about the number of males capable of taking up arms, is probably quite exaggerated. Perhaps closer to the truth is the figure of 7 million inhabitants (including the islands) for 28 BC. C.
For most of the Middle Ages we lacked any data for reliable calculations; it is to be assumed, however, that the population had rather decreased at the fall of the Western Empire and continued to decrease (except perhaps in southern Italy and Sicily) in the period of the so-called barbarian invasions, only to start growing again, slowly at first, much more rapidly. after the year 1000. Various data, indeed very fragmentary, give value to the supposition that in the first decades of the century. XIV Italy had 10-11 million inhab. In this period, for some Italian states, numbering of fires is already beginning to be had and with the following century these numberings become more frequent, more regular, more exact; in the sec. XVI, there are already in some cases even censuses by heads, comparable in a certain way to the current ones; the calculations therefore become less uncertain, but nevertheless remain approximate also because the numbers in the various states of Italy were made at different times. The first half of the century XIV seems to have represented a period of climax also from the demographic point of view; the second half of the century saw a stagnation and the following century perhaps also a decrease; the figure of 10 million, which is given for Italy at the end of the Middle Ages, would prove it. On the other hand, the sixteenth century would represent another period of notable increase: at the end of that century Italy certainly exceeded 12 million inhabitants. and reached 13 towards the middle of the century. XVII. These data, understood as largely approximate, can be considered as very reliable, like the other one which brings up to 14 million abs. at the end of the century. XVII; from which it should be deduced that the increase in this century was less than in the preceding one. In the century XVIII finally we have for all the Italian states censuses or population numbers, which, in their general results, appear to be trustworthy: a very accurate calculation made on the basis of them, gives for 1770 about 16,475,000 for Italy in the borders pre-war; referring to the current borders, it exceeds 17 million. For 1800 we can calculate 18,125,000 inhab. in the old borders and 18,800,000 in the current borders; in 1825 about 20.5 million and in 1852 a little more than 25 million (current borders). Starting from 1861 regular ten-year censuses were carried out in the Kingdom of Italy (with the sole exception of 1891), first on December 31, then at various times. Starting with the 1881 census,
The following table summarizes the main data resulting from the various censuses from 1861 to 1931:
From the data now exposed it can be deduced that the Italian population has roughly doubled in the last hundred years; few other European countries have shown such a rapid rate of increase in the corresponding period. This increase is given, as is known, on the one hand by the surplus of live births over the dead, on the other by the possible surplus of immigrants over emigrants. The figures in the penultimate column of the table show that this increase has remained remarkably constant over the last seventy years, just above or just below 7 per thousand.
But it should be noted that, while up to 1881 emigration was, as we shall see, a phenomenon of modest entity, it subsequently assumed very significant proportions, so as to annually subtract very high contingents of the population; this subtraction was therefore balanced by an increase in the excess of births over the dead. In effect, this surplus, which was just about 7 per thousand in the period 1872-1880, rose in the following five years (1881-85) to 10.7 per thousand and reached 12.6 per thousand in the period 1911-14. War and epidemics abruptly stopped the pace of population growth, indeed, as is well known, in 1918 there was a decrease of over 525,000 inhab. equal to 14.8 per thousand. Then the pace of the increase resumed rapidly: the surplus of live births over the dead already reached 13 per thousand in 1920, and again in 1923. In the following years, up to 1929, this surplus showed a constant tendency to decrease, until it fell to just over 9 per thousand; the phenomenon was beginning to cause serious concern, but, following the vigorous campaign by the government against the limitation of births and in favor of large families, it seems to have stopped; in fact in 1930 the surplus again exceeded 12.5 per thousand. The attached diagram graphically expresses the data for the last sixty years. in fact, in 1930 the surplus again exceeded 12.5 per thousand. The attached diagram graphically expresses the data for the last sixty years. in fact, in 1930 the surplus again exceeded 12.5 per thousand. The attached diagram graphically expresses the data for the last sixty years.
If we consider the surplus of the born over the dead in the various parts of the kingdom, we see that it behaves very differently. In 1929, the year in which the average was, as mentioned above, very low (9.1 per thousand) it exceeded 15 per thousand in Lucania and Calabria, 14 per thousand in Puglia (over 19 per thousand in province of Lecce), while Liguria slightly exceeded 3 per thousand, Piedmont remained below 2 per thousand (0.26 per thousand in the province of Vercelli). Venezia Giulia remained below 4.5 per thousand, and Tuscany slightly exceeded 5 per thousand; some provinces of Lombardy also showed very low ratios (Pavia 2.7 per thousand). They are undoubtedly due to the voluntary limitation of the offspring. In northern Italy the highest surplus rate is given by Veneto (11.4 per thousand);
As for emigration, although as we will say, it has decreased considerably compared to the pre-war period (the annual average in the period 1901-13 was over 625,000, while in 1930, which gave the highest figure of the last five years, it was 300,000 or a little more), however in some regions of Italy it still subtracts a considerable tax rate. For this reason, in conclusion, even now the increase of the population, considered by compartments and provinces, is very uneven. In the interval between the last two censuses there is only one region in slight decrease, Sicily (prov. Of Agrigento, Catania, Enna, Palermo, Ragusa and Trapani), where a considerable emigration is added to the rather low birth rate. Piedmont, considered as a whole, shows a slight increase, to which the province of Turin contributes above all, but the provinces of Alessandria, Aosta, and Cuneo are decreasing due to low birth rates and partly also due to internal emigration. Other provinces with decreases are Pavia, Trento, Belluno, Udine, Vicenza and Pistoia; some of them are characterized by a low surplus of births over the dead, in others, with a marked mountainous character, there are population exoduses, which find better living conditions in lower regions, or in industrial areas, or even move to colonize others strips of Italy conquered by agriculture and population by integral reclamation, as will be mentioned later. On the other hand, some provinces of southern Italy (Abruzzo and Lucania), which in the penultimate decade (1911-1921) showed a decrease in population, are now showing signs of resuming the normal rate of increase,