Healthcare in Italy

Demographics and statistics


Italy was ranked as the 2nd healthiest country in the world, and 1st in Europe, by a Bloomberg survey conducted in May 2012 based on data from the United Nations, World Bank and World Health Organization.


In 2010, Italy had a population of 60.6 million and a nativity rate of 9.3 per thousand inhabitants and a positive difference between births and deaths of 25.000. Foreign population was 4.5 million (7.4% of total) and increased of 335.000 residents in one year.


In 2009, life expectancy at birth in Italy was 82 years, more than two years greater than the OECD average (79.8 years). Only Japan and Switzerland registered a higher life expectancy than Italy in 2009.


Residents aged 65 and over account for 20.3% of the population (5.6% are over 80), children up to 14 years old account for 14% and individuals aged 15-64 are less than two thirds of total population.


The prevalence of over-65-year-olds increased over time, from 6.2% in 1901 to 20.3% in 2009. Given the increase in the over-80s, which rose from 0.7% in 1901 to 5.6% in 2009, it is estimated that by 2030 they will account for 9% of the total population.


The percentage of the population that is overweight or obese increases with age: from 19% for individuals aged 18-24 years to over 60% for 55-74 year-olds, before slightly decreasing for the elderly (55.9% for residents over 75). Men are more overweight than women (45.2% vs. 27.75%), while for obesity the difference is smaller (11.3% for men and 9.3% for women).


Chronic degenerative conditions associated with the ageing process, remain the primary causes of death: cardiovascular illnesses and cancer are the two most frequent causes of death and were responsible in 2008 for 7 out of 10 deaths.

In 2008, for the first time, cardiovascular diseases became the first cause of death for men (35% of total deaths) overtaking cancer (34%). For women, instead, cardiovascular diseases have been the main cause of death for a while (43% of total deaths) and cancer was the second most frequent cause of death (25%).


Cardiovascular diseases largely affect the older population and are associated with heart ischaemia (such as myocardial infarction) and cerebrovascular diseases (such as stroke).


Cancer represents the first cause of death for men aged 45-84 and for women aged 45-64, before being overtaken by cardiovascular diseases.


Lung cancer for men (with a mortality of 7.95 per 10.000) and breast cancer for women (3.67 per 10.000) are responsible for the highest number of cancer deaths.


For individuals aged 15-44, trauma is the main cause of death, which is mainly caused by car accidents (36%). The other main cause of death is cancer (mostly leukaemia and lymphomas).