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Italian Migration

  • Economics


1 Working Papers ITALIAN MIGRATION Daniela Del Boca and Alessandra Venturini ChilD n. 26/2001 e-mail: [email protected] Web site: 2 ITALIAN MIGRATION Daniela Del Boca (University of Turin and NYU) Alessandra Venturini (University of Turin and IZA) 1. Introduction Italy is a country with a long history of emigration and a very short experience of immigration. Mass emigration started with Italian unification: during the period 1861- 1976 over 26 million people emigrated, half of them towards other European countries, the rest towards North and South America. Two fifths of all these emigrations originated from the regions of the South of Italy. The reasons were, on the one hand, the slow and difficult development of the Italian economy and, on the other, the economic expansion which characterised other countries between the second half of the nineteenth century and World War I. After World War II, Italians emigrated mostly towards Europe, especially Germany. In the same years, the development of the industrial North stimulated mass internal migration from the South to the North-West. Emigration declined sharply in the period 1970-1980. In spite of the high unemployment rate (especially among young people), the higher level of income of Italian households allowed them to bear the long periods of unemployment of their members. Now only a few highly skilled and specialised workers leave the country in search of better job opportunities. During the same period, Italy changed from being a sender country into a host country, receiving immigrants largely from developing countries and Eastern Europe. While the effects of immigration are still difficult to grasp and interpret thoroughly, there is wide consensus about the crucial ro

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