Return migration among Italian migrants in Belgium

Daniela Ghio, Université de Montréal

Objectives: We try to capture attachment to home and integration to the host country affecting international return migration process by : examining the impacts of national legislations; recovering the regional dimension of a spatial demographic system where return migration is a dynamic component. Sources: We combine origin-data with destination-data concerning the Italian-Belgian migratory relationship. On the origin-side, we have had direct access to the Register of Italian population abroad A.I.R.E. operated by the Italian Government. On the destination-side, we have obtained data relating to Italian Migrants from the Belgian Population Register (GéDap - UCL). Method: We develop an empirical model structured along three lines sketched above : a. evaluating the demographic profile of Italian migrants in Belgium by sex and age; b. measuring Italian immigrants’ answer to Belgium’s legislation changes on access to citizenship; c. integrating return migration into a multiregional system to be able to consider all interdependencies between vital and migratory behaviour. Results: a. The increase in the female-to-male ratio marks transformations in the migratory strategy of the family in favour of an individual migration. b. The Gross Naturalization Rate is a synthetic index allowing to analyse the effects produced by changes in legislation on naturalization (in Belgian case, from a Gastarbeiter approach toward an European integration model). c. Two demographic systems are simulated : - national : Italy – Belgium; - regional : Sicily - rest of Italy - Wallonia – rest of Belgium;- following two hypotheses : 1. integration : immigrants adopt the demographic regime of destination region ; 2. separation : immigrants keep the demographic regime of origin region. Conclusions: Immigrants’ assimilation into the host society has a regional profile : the relationship between their attachment to home and length of stay may be so weak that the ties of their origin may become dominant.

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Presented in Poster Session 3