Italy's Anti-Immigrant Laws May Be Working. Unfortunately, Italians Are Leaving Too.

How It Works
Jan. 27 2014 3:24 PM

Italy's Anti-Immigrant Laws May Be Working. Unfortunately, Italians Are Leaving Too.

Italy has taken a page out of its past, resorting to extreme measures to keep natives in the country.

Photo by Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images

AFP reports that increasing numbers of Italians are leaving the country, and fewer new arrivals are coming to take their place:

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

The number of Italians leaving the country rose by 36.0 percent to 68,000 people, up from 50,000 in 2011. They headed primarily for Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and France, the national institute of statistics (ISTAT) said.
More than a quarter of over 24-year-olds emigrating had university degrees, it said.
Conversely, the number of immigrants arriving dropped by close to 10 percent in 2012 from a year earlier, to 321,000 people.

Granted, these aren't huge numbers for a country of Italy's size, but they're interesting to consider in light of the country's recent political history. Most of the coverage of immigration in Italy has focused on those arriving in the country from Africa and the Middle East. The share of immigrants in the Italian population tripled between 2002 and 2012, reaching 7.9 percent and prompting a political backlash. Under former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his coalition allies—the staunchly anti-immigrant, and often outright racist, Northern League—Italy approved some of Europe’s toughest immigration laws.

Of course, as the article above indicates, another problem for those who seek to keep Italy only for native Italians is that increasing numbers of Italians are leaving. The economic conditions may also be keeping more Italians from being born. A recent study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research found that the country’s formerly growing birthrate has halted since unemployment began to rise.

Overall, Italy is still a globally desirable destination. The Gallup Potential Global Net Migration Index that I wrote about last week estimated that in a world where everyone was free to settle where they wanted, Italy’s population would grow by 8 percent. Unfortunately that’s down from 32 percent the last time the index was released, in 2009.

Italy’s politics have been partially consumed in recent years by efforts to keep outsiders from moving in, but keeping Italians in may prove to be the bigger long-term challenge.

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 


Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.


How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

How the First Benghazi Committee Hearing Humbled the Hillary Clinton State Department

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Sept. 18 2014 8:53 AM The Other Huxtable Effect Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?