Rather Changing Region Than Country: Patterns of Internal and International Migration during Economic Crises in Italy and Spain

Joaquín Recaño, Center of Demographic Studies - UAB
Victoria Prieto, Universidad de la República

This paper assesses the inter-regional migration and international emigration of native-born and immigrants in Spain and Italy during the most recent economic cycle. We aim to describe the impact of the crisis that heated both countries on the intensity and demographic profile of the different forms of international emigration -return or remigration to third countries- and internal migration. Using microdata from the “Estadística de Variaciones Residenciales” for 2006 – 2015 and, we estimate migration rates of inter-regional migration and different forms of international emigration, including return and remigration. Additionally, we use also microdata from the “Transferimenti di residenza anagrafiche” in Italy.

Furthermore, we specify multinomial regressions for each country to assess effects of the individual demographic characteristics, economic cycle, region of residence and country of birth on the probability of moving abroad versus moving internally. Preliminary results show that for Spain, return migration and emigration to an unknown destination increased significantly for inter-regional migration at late stages of the crisis while internal mobility was the preferred response at early stages of the crisis.

This paper discusses the chronology of migration responses, showing that the pattern already observed in Spain holds to explain the mobility reactions to the economic cycle in Italy, and points to the similarities and differences between both Southern European countries.


OBJECTIVE

This paper assesses the inter-regional migration and international emigration of native-born and immigrants in Spain and Italy by stages of the Great Recession, paying special attention to the mobility by country of origin and nationality. We aim to describe the impact of the crisis on the intensity and demographic profile of the different forms of international emigration -return or remigration- and internal migration.

INTRODUCTION

Migration responses to the 2008 Great Recession generated considerable attention among migration scholars, and the greatest consideration was given to return migration, followed by remigration. However, with a few exceptions, the changes in internal migration were relatively overlooked. Joining the literature bridging the gap between internal and international migration, this paper argues that international emigration, which includes return and remigration to a third country, is a competing response, in time of economic crisis, to internal migration. We aim to examine these three types of migration under the assumption that their simultaneous study is as important as studying them individually, at least when aiming to fully understand the diversity of responses adopted by immigrants facing an increase in unemployment. In addition, acknowledging that the timing in the boom of emigration from Spain and Italy was not immediate to the economic collapse, we hypothesize that internal migration was a preferred response at initial stages of the crisis, being the explanation of a differed increase of return and remigration from Spain and Italy. We consider in the same way that other author''s the hypothesis that internal migration precluded international emigration, but our study differs in terms of the approach adopted. We are unable to establish causality for competing risk of both types of events since we analysed cross-sectional microdata from the changes of residence published by the Spanish and Italian National Statistics Offices (INE and ISTAT), which do not include information on people who do not move and is not longitudinal. Instead, we compare the probability of any form of international emigration versus internal migration, and discuss which individual and territorial characteristics are associated with internal or international migration.

METHODS

Using data from Estadística de Variaciones Residenciales from Spain and Transferimento di Residenza in Italy for the period 2006 – 2015, we estimate migration rates of inter-regional migration and different forms of international emigration, including return and remigration. In addition, we used multinomial regressions to assess effects of the individual demographic characteristics, economic cycle, and country of birth and region of residence on the probability of moving abroad versus moving internally.

RESULTS (Preliminary for Spain)

Return migration and emigration to an unknown destination increased significantly with respect to inter-regional mobility at late stages of the crisis. Remigration was a more likely behaviour before the crisis than inter-regional migration or other forms of international migration. Emigration to an unknown destination resembles return migration in its composition by sex, age, and origin, both following a similar trend and responding to similar contexts, except in the effect of citizenship.

This paper contributions are threefold in the case of Spain. First, is an attempt to disentangle the large group of international emigration accounting for the delisting with unknown destination -a group large enough to surpass returns and remigrations together-. Second, discusses the chronology of migration responses, showing the prevalence of each of them varies according to citizenship and stages of economic downturn, and internal migration has worked as a predecessor of international emigration. Third, points to the similarities between emigration to unknown destination and return migration, enabling to argue that the former is a form of return adopted by immigrants without enough time of settlement to naturalize.

SELECTED REFERENCES

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Recaño, J. & de Miguel Luken, V., 2012. The Internal Migration of Foreign-born Population in Southern Europe: Demographic Patterns and Individuals Determinants. En N. Finney & G. Catney, eds. Minority Internal Migration in Europe. Farnham: Ashgate, pp. 239-262.

Zimmermann, K.F. & Zaiceva, A., 2012. Returning Home at Times of Trouble ? Return Migration of EU Enlargement Migrants during the Crisis. IZA DP, (7111), p.25.

Presented in Session 1084: International Migration and Migrant Populations