Birth rates many countries are falling to alarmingly low levels. Politicians Japan and South Korea are pondering questions about the future economic viability their countries. A recent conference in Italy has addressed the country's looming demographic crisis. Italy has one the lowest birth rates the world. The government is warning considerable strains pensions and the welfare system as Italy's population rapidly ages. The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has warned that having children is becoming more unaffordable many couples. He lamented that starting a family Italy is now a "titanic effort" that only the rich and wealthy can afford.
Pope Francis encouraged Italians to have more children, even rising prices. He cautioned young couples making "selfish, egotistical" choices that are resulting record low birth rates. He said this is threatening Italy's economic future. He called the situation a "demographic winter". Italy saw a record low number births last year of 392,000, which combined an elevated number deaths - 713,000. The Pope urged couples to have babies instead pets. He rebuked a woman who asked him to bless her "baby," which was actually a dog. The BBC wrote that Italy is often dubbed "the country empty cribs". It quoted Elon Musk as tweeting that: "Italy is disappearing."