Italian report: Rapporto Italiani nel Mondo 2022. Italian mobility, living and resisting in the age of global emergencies
- WTI Magazine #157 Nov 18, 2022
Italy increasingly intercultural
It used to be said that Italy has transformed over the years from a country of emigration into a country of immigration: this phrase has never been true and, even more so, it is not true now because it is belied by data and facts. People have never stopped leaving from Italy, and in the last few difficult years of limited travel due to the pandemic, economic and social recession, and the permanence of a national immigration law deaf to the needs of the Italian labor and sociodemographic fabric, the community of Italian citizens officially registered in the Registry of Italians Residents Abroad (AIRE) has surpassed the population of foreigners regularly residing in the country.
A cross-cultural Italy in which 8.8 % of legally resident citizens are foreigners (in absolute value almost 5.2 million), while 9.8 % of Italian citizens reside abroad (over 5.8 million).
In general, the foreign population in Italy is younger than the Italian population. Teens born in Italy to foreign parents ("second generations" in the strict sense) are over 1 million: of these, 22.7 % (over 228 thousand) have acquired Italian citizenship. If foreign-born (about 245 thousand) and naturalized (almost 62 thousand) are added to them, the cohort of children with a migration background exceeds 1.3 million and represents 13.0 % of the total population residing in Italy under the age of 18. A "precious" population, given the demographic situation every year more critical experienced by Italy, characterized by inexorable falling birth rate and relentless aging and considering the fact that among the dreams of these new generations there is more and more to live in other countries of the world: 59% of foreign secondary school students, in fact, would like to move abroad when they grow up, a figure much higher than their Italian peers (42%). For foreigners, the country of birth (their own or their parents') also assumes relevance, which would be chosen as a life destination once they are adults by 11.6 %. However, 47.7% would choose a country other than both Italy and their country of origin, with the United States being the most desired destination overall.
As long as abroad remains for the young and very young currently residing in Italy a desire, the problem, for our country, remains little serious and circumscribed; national history, however, teaches that mobility is something structural for Italy, and the most recent past has seen and sees precisely the new generations increasingly protagonists of the latest departures. Then again, it could not be otherwise considering how fully mobility has become part of the way of life both in the educational and work context and in the experiential and identity context.
Italy increasingly transnational
The current Italian community abroad is made up of more than 841,000 minors (14.5% of the total number of compatriots registered with AIRE) many of whom were born abroad, but many others left in the wake of their families in recent years. To minors must be added the more than 1.2 million young people between the ages of 18 and 34 (21.8 % of the total AIRE population, which comes to account for about 42 % of the total annual departures for expatriation only).
Finally, we must not forget all those who leave for study and training mobility projects-who are not required to register with AIRE and those who are in an irregular situation because they have not complied with the legal obligation to register in this Registry.
A young population, then, that leaves and does not return, driven by an employment rate of young people in Italy between the ages of 15 and 29 that is 29.8 % in 2020 and thus far from the levels of other European countries (46.1 % in 2020 for the EU-27) and with a gap, compared to adults aged 45-54, of 43 %age points. Young people employed in the North of Italy, moreover, are 37.8 % compared to 30.6 % in the Center and 20.1 % in the South. Adding to the territorial gap is the gender gap: while boys residing in the North are the most employed with 42.2 %, girls in the same age group but residing in the South do not exceed 14.7 %.
The threefold rejection perceived by young Italians - demographic, territorial, and gender - incentivizes the desire to go abroad and, above all, makes them put it into practice. From 2006 to 2022, Italian mobility grew by 87 % overall, 94.8 % for women, 75.4 % for minors, and 44.6 % for the sole reason "expatriation."
A youth mobility that grows more and more because Italy stagnates in its fragilities; it has definitively set aside the possibility for an individual to improve his or her status during the course of his or her life by accessing a certain, qualified and enabling job (social elevator); it continues to keep young people confined for years in "reserves of quality and competence" that they can draw on, but the moment never comes. Time passes, new generations become mature and are replaced by new and then brand new other generations, in a vicious cycle that has been going on for far too long.
In this already severely compromised situation, the Covid-19 pandemic has struck with all its severity, making young Italians one of the groups most affected by the social and economic fallout.
The realization of how strong the backlash suffered by the young and very young, already in precarious and fragile conditions, following the outbreak of the global epidemic, was at the center of the creation and formalization of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and several policies adopted at the European level. The actions of the Recovery Plan are aimed at recuperating the potential of the new generations and building an institutional and business environment that can foster their development and prominence within society. The Recovery Plan is a starting point from which to think and plan for a different future, one that responds to and values young people, their skills and competencies while also responding to their desires and expectations.
Italy outside Italy
It has long been the case that young Italians do not feel well liked by their country and their home territories, increasingly driven to seek their fortune elsewhere. The way abroad is presented to them as the only choice to adopt for the resolution of all existential problems (autonomy, serenity, work, parenthood, etc.). And so we are faced with an Italy that is demographically in free fall if it resides and operates within the national borders, and another Italy, increasingly active and dynamic, which, however, looks at those same borders from afar.
As of January 1, 2022, there were 5,806,068 Italian citizens registered with AIRE, 9.8 % of the more than 58.9 million Italians residing in Italy. While Italy has lost 0.5 % of its resident population in one year (-1.1 % from 2020), abroad it has grown in the last 12 months by 2.7 %, which becomes 5.8 % from 2020. In absolute value, this is almost 154,000 new registrations abroad versus more than 274,000 "lost" residents in Italy.
There is no exception: all Italian regions lose residents while increasing their presence abroad. The growth, in general, of Italy's residents in the world has been smaller in the last year, both in absolute value and in percentage terms, than in previous years.
48.2 % of the more than 5.8 million Italian citizens living abroad are women (about 2.8 million in absolute value). They are, above all, single (57.9%) or married (35.6%). The divorced (2.7 %) outnumbered the widowed (2.2 %). Civil unions (about 3,000) have also been recorded for the past few years.
Data on time of residence abroad indicate that the revival of Italian departures is not very recent, but dates back to the deep crisis experienced in 2008-2009 by our country. In fact, 50.3 % of citizens now registered with AIRE have been so for more than 15 years and "only" 19.7 % have been registered for less than 5 years. The rest are divided between those who have been abroad for more than 5 years but less than 10 (16.1%), and those who have been abroad for more than 10 years but less than 15 (14.3%). The Italian presence in the world is growing, it has been said, but growth occurs through exogenous and endogenous elements.
Among the exogenous elements, the most important and most discussed, as a result of the profound changes in our country, due to almost 50 years of immigration and because of a law of 1992 now distant from the intercultural reality of the Belpaese, is the acquisition of citizenship. Italian citizens registered with AIRE for acquisition of citizenship from 2006 to 2022 increased by 134.8 % (in absolute value this is just over 190,000 Italians; it was almost 81,000 in 2006).
The endogenous element par excellence, however, is the birth abroad of Italian citizens, i.e., daughters and sons who find themselves coming into the world from Italian citizens already residing across the border and who, again as Italians, grow up and are formed far from Italy but with an eye on our country. Italians born abroad have increased since 2006 by 167.0 % (in absolute value they are, today, 2,321,402; there were 869,000 in 2006). These are Italians who give back an even more composite face of our country, making it intercultural and increasingly transnational, that is, composed of Italians who have different origins (born and/or raised in countries far from Italy or born in Italy in families that arrived from distant places) and who move with agility between (at least) two countries, speaking multiple languages, inhabiting multiple cultures.
The more than 5.8 million Italians enrolled in AIRE have, therefore, a complex profile. They are young (21.8% are between 18 and 34 years old), young adults (23.2% are between 35 and 49 years old), mature adults (19.4% are between 50 and 64 years old), elderly (21% are over 65 years old, but of these, 11.4% are over 75 years old) or minors (14.5% are under 18 years old). More than 2.7 million (47.0%) left from the South (of these, about 936,000, 16%, from Sicily or Sardinia); more than 2.1 million (37.2%) left from Northern Italy, and 15.7% were from Central Italy.
54.9% of Italians (nearly 3.2 million) are in Europe, 39.8% (more than 2.3 million) in America, Central and South America especially (32.2%, more than 1.8 million). Italians are present in all countries of the world. The largest communities to date are Argentina (903,081), Germany (813,650), Switzerland (648,320), Brazil (527,901) and France (457,138).
Long wave of pandemic curbs Italian mobility
Italy is hopelessly linked to mobility and inevitably called upon, today, to come to terms with the difficulties of travel due to the pandemic, a global event whose effects are being felt over the long term in different ways and accents. This does not mean not moving, it does not mean to have stopped, but to have reduced "official" travel, which, in any case, concerns a substantial number of young people, who left mainly from northern Italy to travel mainly to Europe. Many probably did so by resorting to irregularity, i.e., by not complying with the legal obligation to register with AIRE since, in times of health emergencies, the alarm bells ring loudly - and it could not be otherwise - regarding the loss of health care that has always been the main reason that keeps those who leave for foreign countries from registering with AIRE.
From January to December 2021, 195,466 Italian citizens enrolled in AIRE, down 12.1 % from the same period last year when there were, in absolute terms, 222,260.
Departures for "expatriation" occurred along the course of 2021 totaled 83,781, the lowest figure recorded since 2014, when there were more than 94,000. In fact, the trend of continuous growth stopped already last year, when in any case departures did not fall below 109 thousand. It was, therefore, a gentle slowdown, which, however, became abrupt in the following twelve months.
What was thought to happen to Italian mobility during 2020 happened, instead, during 2021: that is, the pandemic impacted the number of movements of our compatriots, drastically reducing them and transforming, once again, their characteristics. Compared to 2021, this results in 25,747 fewer registrations, a contraction, in one year, of -23.5% that becomes -36.0% from 2020.
The decrease affected, indiscriminately, males (-23.0%) and females
(-24.0%), over 47,000 and almost 38,000, respectively, in absolute value.
The sketch that can be drawn from the overall data indicates, however, that those who left for expatriation from January to December 2021 are predominantly male (54.7% of the total), young between the ages of 18 and 34 (41.6%) or young adult (23.9% between the ages of 35 and 49), single/unmarried (66.8%). Minors drop to 19.5 %. Married people stand at 28.1%.
In the general decrease, the data that appear most clearly concern those who, for several years, have been the undisputed protagonists of recent mobility from Italy, that is, young people between 18 and 34 years of age decreased, in absolute value, by about 12,000 and, in percentage terms, by -25.6%: in the last year the health emergency and the consequences derived from it have dented the heart of Italian departures.
Since last year, the strategies put in place to contain the risks of the pandemic have been noticed: even in the last year, it is recorded that more and more young people and fewer and fewer elderly people (-19.6%) and families are leaving. Also drastically decreasing was the number of minors, who had the highest negative incidence (-25.9%) compared to the national average (-23.5%) and also higher than the class of 18-34 year olds.
78.6 % of those who left Italy for expatriation during 2021 went to
Europe, 14.7 % to America, more specifically Latin America (61.4 %), and the remaining 6.7 % split between the Asian continent, Africa and Oceania.
Despite the reduction in the number of departures, as many as 183 different destinations were noted: 48 from Europe, 47 from Africa, 44 from Asia, 24 from North America and 14 from Latin America, and 6 from Oceania.
53.7 % (just over 45,000) of those who left Italy for expatriation in the past year did so starting from the North of Italy, 53.7 % (just over 45,000) of 46.4% (38,757), on the other hand, from the Center-South.
Lombardy (incidence of 19.0 % of the total) and Veneto (11.7 %) continue to be, as they have been for several years now, the regions from which most depart. They are followed by: Sicily (9.3%), Emilia-Romagna (8.3%) and Campania (7.1%). However, of the nearly 16,000 Lombards, the approximately 10,000 from Veneto or the 7,000 from Emilia-Romagna, many are, in fact, the protagonists of a second migratory path that took them first from the South to the North of the country and then from the North to across the border.