Italy's latest campaign to reverse its falling birth rate has sparked an angry response.
The health ministry has produced 12 posters in the run-up to the country's first fertility day on 22 September.
Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin announced state-sponsored events informing people about family planning. She has warned of a birthrate "apocalypse" if more Italians do not try for children.
One of the campaign posters shows a young woman holding a sand timer with a phrase saying: "Beauty has no age. But fertility does."
Another shows two pairs of feet poking out the bottom of a bed alongside the message: "Young parents. The best way to be creative."
The campaign though has backfired, with critics branding it an insult to those who are unable to conceive.
Best-selling author Roberto Saviano wrote on his Facebook page: "It means, simply, hurry up and have children: you don't have a stable job? What does it matter.
"You are not certain that your partner is the right one?
"Come on, procreate, do it lightly, for where they eat two eat three."
Since the 1960s, Italy's birth rate has halved to 488,000 babies born in 2015. Last year experienced the lowest birth rate since Italy united as one country in 1861.
Also hindering the Italian birth rate is a youth unemployment of 35 per cent.
Many young people are choosing not to have children until they have secured a stable job, economist Elisabetta Addis from the University of Sassari told the Local.
Speaking of what could help turn it around, Professor Addis said: "A ‘baby bonus’ might help families in financial distress but there is no correlation between giving out money and the birth rate, but there is a correlation between the range of services provided and people having more children.
"Having children is a long-term project. Schools could be kept open until 6pm, freeing up a woman’s time so that she can work, and there should be continual help and assistance while the children are young."
The Independent has contacted the Italian Health Ministry for comment.
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