HISTORY OF ITALIAN MIGRATION FROM 1900 TO TODAY
At the beginning the XX century Italy underwent a wide emigration flow. The feelings of the migrants landing in the new countries were mixed. On the one hand there was a desire to succeed and make a fortune to contrast poverty, unemployment, disasters caused by the war, by the persecutions of the dictatorship suffered in Italy; on the other hand there was a longing for everything belonging to life in their country.
The migrants remained abroad for the time they needed to earn some 'extra money’ to live a better life once back to Italy. During the century the total number of emigrants was approximately 29 000000, about half of the population in Italy at that time. The contemporary generations choose a more relaxed way to emigrate and this detachment from home is less traumatic.
Italian migration can be divided into five main phases:
The first phase (1876-1900)
At the end of the XIX century the civil and economic situation of the south of Italy was quite difficult: the land was owned mainly by large landowners, and those without a piece of land or a job were forced to migrate abroad. The number of emigrants grew in the following years and in 50 years about 15 739 000 Italian citizens left their country. Only from 1911 to 1920 the emigration stopped because of the First World War.
Italian emigrants, to Europe as well as to other countries of the world, became builders of railroads and roads, miners, masons and workers in industry. In North America they worked in mines, while in South America as local farmers.
In Canada they worked as silver diggers and in forests. In Belgium they were all mine workers, waiters in France and porters in Germany.
Between 1876 and 1900 the majority of the emigrants were from Northern Italy with 45% of the people from Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Piemonte.
As for the destinations of the migratory flows France and Switzerland were the most attractive countries and, to a lesser extent, Austria-Hungary and Germany.
The second phase (1901-1915)
This phase coincides with Italian industrialization. Emigration in that period was largely non-European. Men were the first and most to leave especially among those leaving from the North. In this period there was a true exodus, about 9 million people left Italy.
The third phase (1920 - 1950)
It coincides with a sharp decline of the emigration wave due to the first legislative restrictions on immigration adopted by some countries and to the severe economic crisis of the '20s. Anyway, emigration continued especially to France and Germany following the "Pact of Steel". At this stage, approximately 3.2 million people emigrated.
The fourth phase (1945 - 1970)
Italy had a new large number of emigrants; about 7 million a year went to work abroad. Political and economic changes caused also a parallel internal migration flow from the countryside to the cities and the most industrialized regions in the north of Italy.
The fifth phase (1970 - 2009)
Recently Italy has undergone a change: there is no mass emigration of workers, but an increasing brain drain. This phenomenon can be registered mostly in southern Italy. In the last 11 years 700 thousand people left and most of them were graduated. The south is increasingly becoming a peripheral region for those who want to work. In Basilicata, for example, in 2007 more than half of the students moved to other Universities in central or northern Italy. Moreover, 52 out of 100 of the graduates who have studied far from home are supposed not to come back!
Official Website of the Basilicata Region, http://www.basilicatanet.it/
Official Website of the Ministry of the Interior, http://www.interno.it/
Website of Caritas Italia and Caritas Basilicata, http://www.caritasitaliana.it/
Articles from the newspapers " Repubblica", www.repubblica.it/ and " Metropolis" www.metropolisweb.it/