Immigration to Italy is falling for the first time since 2014

The Local Italy
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Immigration to Italy is falling for the first time since 2014
Immigration to Italy is falling while emigration rises. Photo: Marie-Laure Messana/AFP

The number of foreigners becoming resident in Italy is declining as the number of Italians leaving the country rises, according to new statistics.


Some 286,000 non-Italians registered as residents in Italy in 2018, national statistics office Istat reported on Monday, a drop of 5.2 percent compared to the year before.

It's the first time the figure has fallen since 2014. The drop was particularly marked in arrivals from African countries, which fell by 17 percent last year.


Most new residents came from Romania (37,000), Brazil (24,000), Albania (18,000) and Morocco (17,000). As has long been the case, most people immigrating to Italy come from other countries in Europe, followed by Africa, Asia and the Americas.

Among the countries where more people are leaving to move to Italy are Albania (over 18,000 new arrivals in 2018, an increase of 16 percent compared to the year before), India (over 11,000 arrivals in 2018, up 42 percent), Venezuela (6,000 arrivals, up 43 percent) and the United States (4,000 arrivals, up 16 percent). 

The most population destination for new residents is the Lombardy region (20 percent), followed by Veneto and Lazio (10 percent each), Emilia-Romagna (9 percent) and Tuscany and Piedmont (7 percent each).

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Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Meanwhile 157,000 people left Italy over the same period. Nearly three-quarters of them – 117,000 – were Italian nationals, which means the number of Italians leaving Italy in 2018 increased by nearly 2 percent year on year and has almost tripled since 2009.

Most emigrants left from the Lombardy region (22,000), followed by Veneto and Sicily (both 11,000), Lazio (10,000) and Piedmont (9,000).

The majority moved within Europe, going to the UK (21,000), Germany (18,000), France (14,000) and Switzerland (10,000). 


Just over half have a high school diploma or higher, with women who leave Italy especially likely to be university-educated. In the past ten years, Istat estimates, some 182,000 graduates have left Italy.

While some central and northern regions of Italy manage to attract more young, educated residents than they lose – notably Lombardy, which lost around 2,000 graduates last year but gained more than 8,000 from other parts of Italy and abroad – all of Italy's southern regions are suffering from brain drain as young residents flock north or overseas. Worst affected are Sicily, Campania, Puglia and Calabria.



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