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Post-World War II Irish and Italian migration

A comparative study examined the ways in which emigration and immigration have shaped Ireland and Italy since 1945. It highlights the ways the two countries have adapted to their transitions.

Industrial Technologies

After 1945, significant numbers of the population in Ireland and Italy emigrated. However, post-war literature has failed to quantify the effect this had on the respective societies and on the people who left. Both countries have transformed from homogenous to heterogeneous societies in a short span of time. Once again, young people are departing from Ireland and Italy as a result of reduced opportunities at home. Meanwhile, newcomers are also arriving in search of a better life. IIMIGRATI (Ireland and Italy's migration experiences since 1945 compared) was an EU-funded project that looked at these trends in both countries. Using the skills of comparative history, IIMIGRATI examined the reasons people left, the ramifications for the societies left behind, the effects of return migration and, finally, how the countries adapted to hosting recent immigrants. Quantitative and qualitative primary and secondary sources were gathered from archives located in libraries and other collections in both countries. Working with these sources revealed the considerable changes that Irish and Italian societies underwent after 1945. For example, technological developments led to reduced employment opportunities in agriculture. Additionally, the need for labour to help rebuild western Europe after World War II signified better paid opportunities abroad. Return migration and internal migration was prominent for Italy during the 1950s and 1960s. Such movements were overlooked by historians studying Ireland. IIMIGRATI results show that return migration to Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s was much higher than previously thought. The Recession of 2008 caused emigration from Ireland and Italy to increase greatly. The number of skilled Irish immigrants was significantly higher because they had more transferrable skills and shared the same language as many of the destination countries. Findings of this interdisciplinary and historic study of migration can influence the work of other approaches and provide a better general understanding of European society.


World War II, migration, emigration, immigration, Ireland, Italy, IIMIGRATI

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