Fewer and fewer INHABITANTS: is Milan’s GOLDEN AGE over?

The city has lost nearly 20,000 residents: these are the main causes

Credits Andrea Cherchi - Milan

The Lombard capital is experiencing a steady decline in residents over the past two years, coinciding with the advent of the pandemic. However, this does not seem to be the main cause, on the contrary it may have brought out some needs that had remained hidden in the golden years of Milan. Let’s see the demographic trend of Milan and the main factors that are determining it.

Fewer and fewer INHABITANTS: is Milan’s GOLDEN AGE over?

# In just 2 years, the city has lost nearly 20,000 residents, reversing the trend

Credits Andrea Cherchi – Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

After the peak of over 1.4 million inhabitants recorded at the beginning of 2019, Milan reversed course already in the following year. Between 2020 and 2021 the city lost 18,000 residents, reaching 1,386,285 with the largest loss in the first year of the pandemic. The exponential growth of the five-year period 2014-2019, in the golden years before and after the Expo, seems only a distant memory.

# The main factors of the trend reversal

credits avv.angeladima1973 su IG – Smart working

Among the main factors that led to the reversal of this positive trend, there is certainly the pandemic with all its consequences. First of all, the smart working that prompted a part of the adoptive Milanese to go to work in their region of origin and the loss of work that generated the same need to return home.

# The birth rate has halved

Another factor to consider, as reported by MiTomorrow.it, is the increase in mortality and the reduction in the birth rate in these two years: minus 55%, due to uncertainty in the current historical context and job instability. This dynamic does not seem destined to change in the future given the high number of residents over 65, 22.4% of Milanese, 44% of singles and only 36% of married couples who are therefore more likely to give birth to children.

# The search for a better quality of life away from Milan

The major thrust of those who have chosen to leave Milan in these two years seems essentially dictated by a factor that the pandemic has only highlighted more, the poor perceived quality of life. The desire of many citizens, forced into their homes by the lockdown for several months, was to live in larger and cheaper apartments, in places with greener spaces and less traffic, clean air and less stress.

# Low wages, high costs: more and more difficult to live there

Credits benini.bruna IG – Borgo a Mozzano

Although Milan has in fact for years been at the top of the rankings on the quality of life, where parameters such as work, university, leisure, mobility, and the environment are included, the reality is that for a part of the lower-middle class, the majority in the city, this is not the case at all. Salaries are low and costs too high, apartments have unsustainable prices, pollution is unbearable and the quality of relationships is worse than in small provinces or small towns. To this is added the degradation, present more and more often also in the historic center, and a growth in the phenomena of violence or petty crime. Only work is not enough to choose to stay in Milan. Here, then, is that life in the provinces or in small towns and villages on a human scale, in contact with nature and away from the hustle and bustle of a metropolis seems to be becoming the ideal solution for some.

# “Milan is now made to work, not to live there“. What the Milanese say

Let’s see some of the responses of original Milanese, who have remained and fled, and of adoptive Milanese to the question posed on the Milano Città Stato facebook page why Milan continues to lose residents:

Milan is only suitable for working there, not for living there! Too much pollution and crime… after 7/20 pm every neighborhood is dangerous” Lucia G.

Houses are too expensive, so those who can work remotely go back to their town, where life in general costs less and where, in reality, sociality is better lived out, without detracting from the splendid city that is Milan. “Matilde P.

Milan is expensive, whether you buy a house or rent it. Currently my beloved city is dirty, untidy, abandoned to neglect, even in the best suburbs degradation is king. ” Giovanna R.

Salaries do not allow for a lifestyle that is adequate for the prices of the city, it is simply that I believe.” Alexander R.

The reasons are many. Besides the costs, I also believe that smart working has led some people to choose a different lifestyle. Commuting two days a week is feasible, doing it 5 days is something else. The same goes for those arriving from other regions, you can live in the south and come to Lombardy for a week a month paying only 4 nights and without paying the rent of a house in Milan. ” Stefano L.

With the advent of smart working in these two years, one can go to work wherever he wants. Milan has lost appeal, especially after these two years, people need open spaces in nature, not to shut themselves up in a building and never go out” Amanda C.


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Graduated in Business Strategy and Communication in Reggio Emilia, with a background in ICT & Marketing. Curious about the future and the most innovative technologies, such as Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Since 2012 in Milan, half Milanese on my mother's side, a lover of the city and passionate about transportation and architecture: I have chosen Milan to live and work because I consider it my ideal city.