That is what a French journalist claimed on France’s Radio Classique. The phenomenon, although real, began before Salvini’s ascent to power.
During a radio interview with French journalist Guillaume Durand, Jordan Bardella, head of Rassemblement National’s list for the EU elections, brought up the record of Salvini, who had, he claimed, “made his people confident again”, the journalist cut in: “Well, 160 000 Italians have left Italy since the arrival in power of Matteo Salvini and Di Maio, but that’s another subject.”
Guillaume Durand is alluding to a much-remarked demographic statistic for 2018, published in early February by Italy’s national statistics agency (Istat).
Italy’s population is falling
Istat’s press release highlights a shrinkage in the Italian population, which in 2018 dropped by more than 90 000 to reach 60.39 million, continuing the decline of recent years.
2018’s fall is, like previous falls, mainly due to a negative balance of natural demography. The number of births in 2018 was historically low at 449 000, 128 000 fewer than ten years previously. In comparison, the number of deaths was 636 000, making a negative balance of 187 000. The 2018 migration balance, however, was positive at 190 000, with 349 000 arrivals for 160 000 departures.
It is to this figure of 160 000 departures that Guillaume Durand is referring. We should note that the figure concerns the whole year and so cannot be imputed entirely to Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, since their coalition only arrived in power on 1 June 2018. In addition, the figure does not concern only Italians: of the 160 000 departures, 120 000 were Italians, but 40 000 were of other nationalities.
In the last 5 years, more and more Italians are leaving
Looking at a longer period, it is clear that this phenomenon of emigration (concerning Italians and non-Italians) does not date from 2018, even if it has accelerated slightly. The Istat data show a marked increase in departures since 2010. The rise was particularly obvious between 2010 and 2016. Since then the figures have been somewhat stable.
In 2016 Istat counted 157 000 departures, of which 115 000 were Italian citizens. These figures were very similar to those of 2017 (155 000 departures, 115 000 Italians) and 2018 (160 000, 120 000 Italians).
An Istat report for 2017 indicates that the favorite destinations of Italian emigrants were the UK, then Germany, France, Switzerland and Spain.
Between 2013 and 2017 the same report calculated that, by taking into account both entries and departures, Italy had lost 243 000 nationals aged over 25, and over two-thirds of those had a “high level of education”.
Meanwhile, the trend for immigration is the inverse. It decreased markedly between 2007 (its peak) and 2013, and since then has been constantly growing. Here too, the figure concerns both Italians and non-Italians, although the latter represent the clear majority of entries.