Volume 33 - Article 39 | Pages 1105–1136  

The educational integration of second generation southern Italian migrants to the north

By Gabriele Ballarino, Nazareno Panichella


Background: After WW2 Italy experienced a huge internal migration from the south to the northern Italian regions. More than two million individuals moved up north, and the majority of them settled down permanently. How were southern internal migrants integrated into northern Italian society? Despite the theoretical and substantial relevance of the topic, there has been little systematic research on it.

Objective: This work studies the assimilation of this migration flux from a long-term perspective, comparing the school outcomes of the children of southern migrants to those of both northerners’ children and children of southern families who did not move.

Methods: To this aim, logit models of three different school transitions are applied to data from the Italian Longitudinal Household Survey (ILHS), a retrospective panel survey that includes detailed life-course information on a representative sample of roughly 11,000 Italians.

Results: There is no difference between the educational performance of both generation 2 and the mix generation and that of the northerners. However, strong and significant disadvantages were found with regard to generation 1.5, due to the disruption in individual school experience caused by the migration itself.

Conclusions: The Italian educational system played an important role in facilitating the integration of the second generation of Southern immigrants, but it was less able to assimilate those who had already begun their studies in the south before following their parents to the north.

Author's Affiliation

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