The number of immigrants in Italy drops, it is the first time in twenty years

According to emerges from the anticipation of the 2021 Immigration Statistical Dossier, whose presentation will be held on Thursday 28 October, after twenty years of uninterrupted growth, in Italy also due to the pandemic there is a decrease in foreign presence, which no longer compensates for the natural demographic balance of the country. This is the highest drop ever. Both the residents and the workforce are decreasing, whose employment rate, for the first time in the history of immigration in the country, becomes lower than that of Italians.

Italy, already struggling with a demographic decline for at least six years, in 2020 records, for the first time in twenty years, also the highest decline in the foreign population. In just one year, the country loses almost 200,000 inhabitants in all foreign residents they decreased by 26,422 units (-0.5%), settling at 5,013,215. Judging from these data that reports the Statistical Dossier Immigration the cure of IDOS, in collaboration with Confronti and the Institute of Political Studies “S. Pius V “, therefore, the times in which the foreign resident population compensated for the negative natural balances of the Italians seem to be over.

The decline in foreign residents is the consequence of various items that emerged in the demographic balance of 2020: registrations in the registry office of foreigners arriving directly from abroad, cancellations of foreigners who have left Italy for abroad, cancellations made ex officio due to unavailability or loss of requirements, acquisition of Italian citizenship by foreigners, births and deaths registered during the year.

The Covid 19 pandemic has affected these data. Due to closures due to virus containment measures, the registrations from abroad (177.304) of foreign residents fell by a third (-33.0%) compared to 2019 and slightly less (-30.6%) than the average of the last 5 years. Foreigners canceled due to emigration abroad have also almost halved (29,682): 48.4% less than in 2019. The difference between foreigners registered from abroad and foreigners canceled due to emigration abroad is therefore positive (+147,622), but about 58,000 units lower than in 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 loses, between births and deaths, 392,108 people, while the foreign component, thanks to births, increases by 50,066. Foreigners, for their younger age, have suffered less from the lethal effects of the pandemic but, despite this, their mortality increased by 25.5% in one year (1,892 deaths more than in 2019) and records the greatest increase in the North-West (+ 36.0%), most affected by the spread of the virus.

Although the foreign and natural migratory balance are also positive in 2020, foreign residents are decreasing due to 118.949 office cancellations for “other reasons” (unavailability or expiry of the residence permit) and of 133mil foreigners who have acquired the Italian citizenship. In the case of non-EU citizens, the border blockade has been added the slowdown in the management of administrative procedures: only with the issue of the residence permit, in fact, it is possible to register with the registry, which moreover occurs after a presence in Italy for a certain duration.

All these elements together 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. Instead, the 2020 decline is the highest ever and, net of the acquisitions of Italian citizenship and official 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 a exceptional drop in overall employment (in all 456 thousand fewer workers: -2.0%) and, at the same time, a strong 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 the search for work is strongly discouraged even among foreigners.

The number of foreign workers, in continuous growth since 2004, in 2020 decreased 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 workers 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 distance was reduced to just 2 points. And so, for the first time in the history of immigration in Italy, the employment rate of foreigners stands at one level lower than that of Italian citizens (57.3% compared to 58.2%), having decreased in the former to a much more intense extent (-3.7 against -0.6 percentage points).

The national presentation of the 2021 Immigration Statistical Dossier will be held on Thursday 28 October at 10.30, at the Nuovo Teatro Orione (via Tortona 7) and can also be followed remotely in live streaming on the IDOS website and Youtube channel.

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