Social and economic factors

The relationship between man and environment is intrinsically complex, bidirectional and constantly dynamic. The human activities, also known as “anthropization”, affect  and change the environment continuously, in order to meet men’s needs.

The demographic, economic, social and cultural variables represent relevant pressure factors affecting the territory,  particularly the urban areas, whose population density and numerous production activities determine among the highest levels of pollution and pressure on the ecosystem. Focusing on these factors and on the ability of the environment to absorb and react to their pressure, involves an approach based on the knowledge and assessment of the effects of the human action on the environment, also to be able to promote those factors that may contribute to a better quality of life.

Within the knowledge of the complex relationship between population and environment, the distribution and "concentration" of the population in urban areas play a relevant role: the data referred to 31 December 2013 show that 27% of the national population lives in 73 municipalities, whose extension covers only 5% of the national territory. Population and its distribution on the territory represent a high incidence factor of pressure on the environment. The study of demographic trends, in particular the development of the resident population and its spatial concentration, is fundamental in the sustainable urban planning process.

As regards the demographic trends in the decade 2001-2011, in many cases, along with a population decrease in the capital, it was found a relevant increase of population in the municipalities of the respective province, especially in the municipalities of the metropolitan cities. Such redistribution of the population caused a functional reorganization of the territory and an increase both of soil consumption and transportation.

As concerns the economic aspects, the production activities represent one of the most significant environmental pressure factors. Within this topic several indicators play a key role, such as those describing the demography of enterprises, which may provide an overall picture of the evolution of the productive sector, providing information about the birth, mortality and growth of enterprises. It should be noted the contribution of women and young people to the birth of new enterprises.

In the current economic crisis, the knowledge of the relationship between demographic, social and economic trends is essential to promote the protection of the environment through the promotion of a model of society based on resource efficiency, waste reduction and new eco lifestyles, more and more socially inclusive.