[ExI] Italy's Social Capital

Amara Graps amara at amara.com
Fri Jun 8 07:22:15 UTC 2007

Sorry I had cut off the subject line in my copying and pasting

>Such filtering could amount to a brain-drain, a motivation-drain, etc.
>But have substantial numbers of Italians who did have "what it takes"
>actually left for greener pastures?  Was there ever a time in the 19th
>or 20th centuries when Italy produced a strong scientific tradition?
>(Surely Enrico Fermi and a few others I could mention must have had very
>good academic circumstances---but then, he did leave. :-)

Serafino can say about this. There was, for a brief time, a scientific
tradition 50 years ago with the nuclear physicists, and yes, they mostly
left too.

The Brain Drain from Italy, today, is well-known, as it has existed for
decades and the rate only continues to increase. Try typing "Italy Brain
Drain" into Google. (Some call it a "Flood"). Italy is the only EU
country experiencing a "Brain Drain" instead of a "Brain Exchange". As I
said before, those who do not have family duties keeping them in Italy,

How Large is the "Brain Drain" from Italy?
Sascha O. Becker U Munich Andrea Ichino EUI Giovanni Peri
UC Davis March, 2003


Using a comprehensive and newly organized dataset the present article
shows that the human capital content of emigrants from Italy
significantly increased during the 1990's . This is even more
dramatically the case if we consider emigrating college graduates, whose
share relative to total emigrants quadrupled between 1990 and 1998. As a
result, since the mid-1990's the share of college graduates among
emigrants from Italy has become larger than that share among residents
of Italy. In the late nineties, between 3% and 5% of the new college
graduates from Italy was dispersed abroad each year. Some preliminary
international comparisons show that the nineties have only worsened a
problem of "brain drain", that is unique to Italy, while other large
economies in the European Union seem to experience a "brain exchange".
While we do not search for an explanation of this phenomenon, we
characterize such an increase in emigration of college graduates as
pervasive across age groups and areas of emigration (the North and the
South of the country). We also find a tendency during the 1990's towards
increasing emigration of young people (below 45) and of people from
Northern regions.


"...the unanimous feeling was that there are greater and fairer
opportunities abroad, both in academia and industry; there is good
funding, incentives to carry on independent research projects,
enthusiasm, and, last but not least, higher salaries."

real life cases:

>We may be trying to talk about two different things: I'm
>was talking mostly about the entire scientific/technical/
>economic package (of which Silicon Valley is the world
>pre-eminent example), and you may be talking about
>pure science.

I was, but they are strongly linked, and I implied the larger picture
(perhaps not very well) in my writing.

There is very little private industry for research in Italy. Fairly
telling for the 5th largest economy in the world, no? Only two in the
worlds top 100 businesses investing in R&D are Italian companies.


This blog is useful to answer your questions too:

Italian Economy Watch



Amara Graps, PhD      www.amara.com
INAF Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario (IFSI), Roma, ITALIA
Associate Research Scientist, Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Tucson

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