Brain Drain – focus on regional origin and main destinations

Rome Business School – Research Center Report: Demographic changes, analysis of a determining factor for sustainable economic growth, social resilience and technological development.

According to the estimates of the “IDOS Study and Research Center” 18, in addition to the 112 thousand registered in AIRE for expatriation, the global number of Italians abroad increased in 2020 due to over 78 thousand registered abroad by birth, 8 thousand acquisitions of Italian citizenship from abroad and 22 thousand registrations for other reasons, thus reaching a total number of 5,652,080 Italians registered with the Aire (of which 48.1% are women, 15% are minors, 64 , 7% by adults between 18 and 64 and 20.3% by over 65).

Of these, almost half (48.9%) is from Southern Italy, 35.5% from the North and 15.6% from the Center. Departures in the last year covered 107 provinces, the first six were Rome, Milan, Naples, Treviso, Brescia, Palermo. We have seen that the weak demographic turnover determines effects above all on the population of Italian citizenship, the amount of which continues to decrease from year to year. Overall, the Italian residents amounted to 54 million 935 thousand in 2020, with a reduction of about 240 thousand units (-4.3 per thousand) on the previous year. For Italian citizens, the main demographic items are largely negative: the natural balance (-267 thousand units), the net migration balance with foreign countries (-77 thousand) and the balance for adjustments of a personal nature (-2 thousand).

Partial compensation for these decreases derives solely from the acquisitions of Italian citizenship (+ 109 thousand). With the sole exception of Trentino-Alto Adige, all regions are affected by a process of reducing the population of Italian citizenship. The issue particularly affects demographically depressed or more rapidly aging regions. Such as Basilicata (-11.3 per thousand), Molise (-10.4) and Calabria (-9.1) in the South, but also regions in the north of the country such as Liguria (-8.7).

At the level of destination countries, young Italians who go abroad mainly land in EU countries. According to official statistics, there are about 2.2 million Italians abroad registered in the special registry registers, residing in the European Union. The country that welcomes the largest number of Italians is Germany (1,198,032), which concentrates more than a third of the presences recorded in Europe. At a distance, Great Britain (14%), France (13%), Spain (10%) and Belgium (6%) follow.

Overall, 60% of the expatriation of Italian citizens is concentrated in these five countries. Among the non-European countries, the main destinations are Brazil, Argentina, the United States, Australia and Canada. The variations in the demographic dimension of the European diaspora are minimal between the end of 2019 and mid-2020 (Migrantes Foundation data). Even the natural experiment of the pandemic, during which a health incentive was created for the return home of migrants not registered in the social security system of the host country (i.e. those less deeply rooted), did not affect the overall size of the Italian-European population. . The only country in which there is a decrease worthy of attention is the United Kingdom: the number of Italians gradually decreases in April, May and June 2020, the month in which there are about ten percent fewer presences compared to the surveys of the previous winter.

In the British case, the health emergency has overlapped with the incipient Brexit, which destabilizes the future rights of European citizens – and therefore also access to the public health system. The pandemic has therefore probably reinforced an inclination to return that was already latent among Italians across the Channel. In fact, the end of the EU-UK academic reciprocity which, until now, saw Italy as the first country for the number of students enrolled in British universities (14,000 in the 2018-2019 academic year alone), will lead to an exponential increase in university fees and According to a recent survey, more than 80% of students would not be willing to study in the country if fees were to double.

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