Word Pairs


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Birth rates in [many / much] countries are falling to alarmingly low levels. Politicians in Japan and South Korea are [pounding / pondering] questions about the future economic [viability / viable] of their countries. A recent conference in Italy has [enveloped / addressed] the country's looming [reprographic / demographic] crisis. Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The government is [waning / warning] of considerable strains on pensions and the welfare system [as / was] Italy's population rapidly ages. The head [off / of] the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has warned that having children is becoming more [unaffordable / affordable] for many couples. He lamented that starting a family in Italy is now a "titanic effort" that only the [enrich / rich] and wealthy can afford.

Pope Francis encouraged Italians to have more children, even [mid / amid] rising prices. He cautioned young couples for making "selfish, egotistical" choices that are resulting [on / in] record low birth rates. He said this is [threatening / entreating] Italy's economic future. He called [the / a] situation a "demographic winter". Italy saw a record [low / lowly] number of births last year of 392,000, which [combined / combed] with an elevated number of deaths - 713,000. The Pope urged couples to have babies [rather / instead] of pets. He rebuked a woman who asked him to [bless / bias] her "baby," which was actually a dog. The BBC wrote that Italy is often [dubbed / daubed] "the country of empty [crabs / cribs] ". It quoted Elon Musk as tweeting that: "Italy is disappearing."

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