Abstract and Keywords
Immigration to Italy is a misunderstood phenomenon, with the dominant image being that of an overcrowded boat crossing the Mediterranean. In reality, immigration is a complex and multi-layered phenomenon driven by economic factors: foreign workers are pulled to Italy by the need for cheap labor originating in the workings of a low-growth low-productivity economy and the growing difficulties of sustaining a traditional welfare regime. Immigrant workers play an increasingly important role in supporting Italy’s stagnant economy and have become a pillar of its welfare state, in particular in the domestic care sector. Despite the growing importance of immigrant workers, policy has been inadequate: rather than proactively managing migration, Italian policy has been reactive, with regular amnesties used as a tool for regularization of immigrants already within the country. Immigration is slowly changing Italy’s demographics and immigrants are becoming more tightly assimilated in Italian society, but integration remains far from complete.
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