The 2017 ‘Italians in the World Report’ released by Migrantes Foundation some days ago points out that almost 50% of the 5 million Italian espatriates comes from Southern Italy. Yet, a smaller share is either from the North of Italy (34%) or and from the Centre (16%). Nothing new under the sun, then? Not exactly, since it is worth to rethink some facts.
First, let’s focus on people that actually left the country, i.e. on AIRE (The Register of Italians Residing abroad) registrations for immigration reasons in 2016. International migration outflows increased by 15.4% last year and the increase involves all regions of origin, but Friuli Venezia Giulia. In 2016 more than 124 thousand people enrolled at AIRE for immigration, that means 2 per thousand inhabitant, with reference to Italian population. Across regions the ratio is quite heterogeneous, but does not confirm the typical dichotomy North-South. Yet, above the country average areall Northern regions but Liguria and Emilia Romagna, Central ones (with the exception of Marche) and 4 Southern regions (Abruzzo, Molise, Calabria and Sicilia).
ISTAT data on movements from Local Register Offices confirm the increase of cross-borders departures. During the last three years, indeed, cancellations from other countries rose by 7.7% on average, while those to other Italian municipalities fell by 0.8%. If the tendency to move abroad rather than within the country is strengthening everywhere, it is more evident in the South where from 2013 to 2016 a relatively disappointing trend of internal migration flows is associated to a good performance of international outflows.
Thus, foreign countries attract many Italians that choose to reside abroad permanently. This attractiveness is spread across regions: people are moving out of the Italian borders not only from the South, to the detriment of the traditional South-North trajectories, but also from the rest of the country.
Italy under risk of draining, then? Not yet, since international net migration (registration from foreign countries to Italian municipalities minus deregistration to foreign countries) is still positive in all regions, meaning a surplus for the attractiveness of Italian territories. However, the aforementioned evidences ring a warning bell, especially if associated to the well-known and anything but brilliant population trends.