• Wed. Oct 27th, 2021

Migrants, dossier: “Declining presence in Italy after 20 years of growth”


Oct 13, 2021

After 20 years of uninterrupted growth, also due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is a decrease in the foreign presence in Italy, which no longer compensates for the country’s natural demographic balance. Both the residents and the workforce are shrinking, whose employment rate becomes lower than that of Italians. This is what emerges from the previews of the 31st Immigration Statistical Dossier edited by Idos, in collaboration with Confronti and the Institute of Political Studies’ S. Pius V ‘, which will be presented on 28 October next. Italy, in demographic decline for at least six years, in 2020 records, for the first time in 20 years, also the highest decline in the foreign population. In just one year, the country lost almost 200,000 inhabitants in total and foreign residents decreased by 26,422 units (-0.5%), reaching 5,013,215. The times in which the foreign resident population compensated for the negative natural balances of the Italians therefore seem to be over. The decline in foreign residents is the result of various items in the 2020 demographic balance: registrations in the registry office of foreigners arriving directly from abroad, cancellations of foreigners who have left Italy for abroad, cancellations made ex officio for unavailability or loss of requirements, acquisition of Italian citizenship by foreigners, births and deaths registered during the year. Due to the closures due to the containment measures of the pandemic, enrollments from abroad (177,304) of foreign residents fell by a third (-33.0%) compared to 2019 and slightly less (-30.6%) compared to the average of the last 5 years. Foreigners canceled for abroad have also almost halved (29,682): 48.4% less than in 2019. The difference between foreigners enrolled from abroad and foreigners canceled for abroad (foreign migration balance) is therefore positive (+147,622 ), but lower by about 58 thousand units compared to 2019. Looking at the difference between births and deaths, Italy records, also due to the pandemic, an increase in mortality which leads to a natural balance of the total population negative for 342,042 units: the Italian component lost, between births and deaths, 392,108 people, while the foreign component, thanks to births, increased by 50,066. Foreigners, for their younger age, suffered less from the lethal effects of the pandemic but, despite this, their mortality increased in one year by 25.5% (1,892 deaths more than in 2019) and records the greatest increase in the North-West (+ 36.0%), more affected by the spread of the virus. Although the foreign migratory balance and the natural balance are also positive in 2020, foreign residents drop due to 118,949 cancellations for ‘other reasons’ (unavailability or expiry of the residence permit) and 133 thousand foreigners who have acquired the Italian citizenship. In the case of non-EU citizens, the slowdown in the management of administrative procedures has been added to the blocking of the borders: only with the issue of the residence permit, in fact, it is possible to register, which moreover occurs after a presence in Italy of a certain duration. All these elements give rise to the decrease recorded in 2020. In 20 years, only in 2015 and 2016 there were slight decreases (respectively -4.203 and -12.409), but decidedly lower and detected a posteriori by Istat (post census review ). Instead, the decline in 2020 is the highest ever and, net of the acquisitions of Italian citizenship and office cancellations, it is attributable to the pandemic (except for updates that Istat will communicate with the final data at the end of 2021). In the labor market, the pandemic has produced an exceptional drop in overall employment (456 thousand fewer workers in all: -2.0%) and, at the same time, a sharp reduction in unemployment (-271 thousand: -10.5%). Two apparently conflicting phenomena, but to be read together with the increase in inactivity (i.e. of those who do not have and are not looking for work): pandemic, restrictions to combat the spread of the virus and closure of many activities during lockdowns, have strongly discouraged the search for work also among foreigners. The number of foreign workers, which has been growing continuously since 2004, in 2020 decreases by 6.4% (- 1.4% for Italians), unemployment by 12.4% (-10.1% for natives), while inactivity grew by 16.2% (+ 3.1% for Italians). Foreign employees thus fell to 2,346,000, with a loss of 159,000 units (they were 2,505,000 in 2019). Nevertheless, due to the consistent loss of employment even among Italians, the incidence of foreigners on the total does not decrease (10.2%). If in 2004 the inactivity rate of foreigners was 12 percentage points lower than Italians, after 14 years the gap was reduced to only 2 points. And so, for the first time in the history of immigration in Italy, the employment rate of foreigners is lower than that of Italian citizens (57.3% compared to 58.2%), having decreased among the top to a much more intense extent (-3.7 against -0.6 percentage points).