As Immigrants Flood Italy, More and More Italians Emigrate Out

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The number of Italians emigrating from their home country more than doubled between 2010 and 2014, according to a new report, coinciding with a parallel increase in immigrants entering the country.

Italy has been inundated with migrants over the past several years, notably from sub-Saharan Africa, a trend that is showing no signs of abating. What is less obvious but equally striking is the reverse trend in Italians choosing to leave their country in search of greener pastures.

This week the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) released its 2016 International Migration Outlook report, which shows Italy among the countries with the most marked increase in emigration in recent years.

Italy’s migration outflow grew from 125,730 persons in 2013 to 136,330 in 2014, the report states. And in just four years—from 2010 to 2014—emigration of Italian citizens more than doubled. The main destination countries of the emigrants were the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and France.

The report also notes that according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), more than 150,000 “irregular” immigrants reached Italian shores in 2015, while in the first quarter of 2016 the number of new arrivals by sea showed a significant increase of 42 percent over the same period in 2015.

From 2014 to 2015, the number of asylum applications in Italy increased by more than 31 percent, with a majority of immigrants proceeding from Nigeria, Pakistan and Gambia.

The report also notes that during 2015 Italy added some 1,500 new “accommodation spaces” for migrants, which are radically insufficient to lodge the actual number of persons arriving.

The Italian government has also established a “Baby Bonus” for long-term foreign residents, and families with children born or adopted between 2015 and 2017 are entitled to a government stipend of 960 euros per year, for up to three years.

The 2016 report begins with a warning:

The public is losing faith in the capacity of governments to manage migration. Opinion polls in a wide range of countries suggest that the share of the public holding extreme anti-immigration views has grown in recent years and that these extreme views are frequently heard in public debates.

The report also acknowledges that despite frequent media reports to the contrary, “in most countries, refugee flows are still a relatively small part of overall migration.”

Common concerns among citizens, the report states, include the perception that “migration is unmanaged and borders are not secured,” immigrants “stretch local services” to the detriment of citizens, immigration unfairly burdens the poor by introducing outside competition for jobs, and that many migrants do not assimilate and “may even oppose the values of host societies.”

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