More than a third of Italian teens want to emigrate, survey finds

ROME (Reuters) - More than a third of Italian teenagers want to emigrate when they are older, according to a survey by national statistics institute Istat which also found that young people have become more anxious about the future.

The findings add to multiple warnings about Italy's demographic decline. In March, Istat reported that births fell to 379,000 in 2023, a record low, while the total population dropped below 59 million.

Among a sample of people aged 11 to 19, about 34% want to move abroad when they grow up, versus 45% who want to stay in Italy and 21% who are undecided, Istat said.

Its survey was conducted in 2023.

The top destination for wannabe emigrants was the United States, selected by 32% of those who said they wanted to leave Italy, followed by Spain (12.4%) and Britain (11.5%).

To counter the decline in human capital triggered by the falling birth rate and the desire to emigrate, Istat said Italy should offer young people "adequate life opportunities".

However, data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that real wages in Italy have grown by only 1% over the past 30 years, compared an average increase of 32.5% in the OECD area.

Italy also has the EU's lowest employment rate at around 66%, according to Eurostat.

Istat found that young Italians have become less confident about the future, with one third of those surveyed saying they were fearful, an increase of 5.5 percentage points from a similar study in 2021.

(Reporting by Matteo Negri, editing by Alvise Armellini and Christina Fincher)