For the last six years, people have continued leaving Abruzzo in droves. The population in the region has been steadily shrinking at a rate higher than the national average. In fact, since 2014 to 2019, 28,169 people left the region, which is an equivalent of a city like Roseto Degli Abruzzi.

Regional media report the findings of a local economist Aldo Ronci, who noted that Sulmona fared the worst: the city registered a population decline of 2,11%, significantly higher than the national average of 0,89%. 1643 people left Sulmona in the last six years with the highest number (almost 400 people) hitting the road in 2019. The second worst is Ortona, with 4,40% (1049 people) of its population moving to greener pastures. Lanciano registered a loss of 822 inhabitants and Penne – 565. There are small towns that have lost even a bigger chunk of their population percentagewise: in Filetto (CH) the number of inhabitants dived by 12,05% and in Catignano (PE) by 9,80%.

Ortona/Zitumassin, CC BY-SA 3.0

The province of L’Aquila leads with a population drop of 8,393 people. It is followed by the province of Chieti (-9.574 people), Pescara (-4.081 people) and Teramo (-3.756 people).

Abruzzo has seen continuous depopulation of its mountainous hinterland (mostly in the provinces of L’Aquila and Chieti) for decades, however, recently, the trend has also spread to coastal towns. The situation is not helped by a continuous drop in birth rate in mountain towns and villages in the region. “In the light this trend, it is not hard to predict that, unless specific policies are developed, the situations is likely to worsen,” writes Ronci. Some of the rural communities have been trying to find creative solutions for combating depopulation: Villa Santa Lucia degli Abruzzi, one of the least populated in the region, offered €25,000 to anyone who could revive its recently closed bar-shop, Santo Stefano in Sessanio offers up to €40,000 in grants to people under 40 to move there and set up a business.

Villa Santa Lucia degli Abruzzi/
, CC BY-SA 3.0 

So far, the regional government has not been able to come up with effective measure to improve the situation. It has recently proposed a birth bonus of €2500 per year for young families if they decide to have a child and reside in a small underpopulated village but the law hasn’t been passed yet.

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