GIOVENTU » Almost 10% of the population has emigrated

Almost 10% of the population has emigrated

Emigration from Italy is a major threat to its economy in the near future. Notwithstanding GDP growth and the announced economic recovery, the emigration flow continues and almost 10 per cent of the Italian population has left the country to emigrate abroad. “The financial times” reported that the number of Italians living outside the country has reached 5.4 million, an increase of 3.5 per cent over last year. The official figures may be much higher as many Italians are reluctant to formally register abroad in order not to lose their health coverage in Italy. For example, the financial times reported that the number of Italians obtaining social security numbers in the UK last year was twice the number of those officially registered as living in Britain.

Young people account for the majority of Italian emigration. The UK National Insurance statistics show that since 2002 more than 90 per cent of Italians registering to work in Britain were under 44 years old. Some 77 per cent were aged between 18 and 34 years old.

The data might come as a surprise as Italy seems finally to be doing well: employment is back to pre-crisis levels; labour inactivity rate is close to an all-time low and the gross domestic product is growing faster than at any point since 2010.

The problem is that young, ambitious people still feel unfairly treated, and they still haven’t benefitted from the economic recovery.

Since 2008, when the economic crisis started, 1.5m people have left the country. Italy has been experiencing huge flows of immigration but migrants are now leaving as well. In 2015, 45,000 non-Italians left the country, three times as many as in 2007. 

The Italian data on youth emigration is in contrast with other eurozone countries, where economic recovery has slowed the pace of emigration. Italy still holds some negative records: the share of under-34s who are neither in employment nor in education is the highest in the EU and more than half of under-25s in employment are working under temporary contracts.

Italy is also second only to Japan for the number of people aged 65 and over. The share of population in the working age has dropped by 5% from 1990 to 2015, and in the past five years alone the number of those aged between 18 and 44 contracted by 6 per cent. The loss of young productive workers is going to have a great impact on the production system.

Those leaving are also more highly educated than the overall Italian population. Graduates are leaving in increasing numbers and are about 30 per cent of the emigrants from Italy.

The causes of this brain drain are deep-set, skilled young Italian graduates not only are underemployed and underpaid, but don’t have the possibility to emerge, because in the Italian labour market relationships and seniority weigh more than competence.

Giulia Lomardo

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