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To return or not to return? The impact of the economic crisis on migrants and their return rate


  • Paula Rosu

Summary, in English

The economic slowdown that started to be felt internationally in 2008 has put in doubt the effectiveness and the legitimacy of labor force migration policies. In the European case, such consequences had even greater implications since some of the worst hit countries have been exactly those which have adopted a total openness toward the legal immigration field.
Therefore, the economic crisis inevitably called for more restrictive migration policies in almost all European Union countries. Labor admission options have been limited in conditions of declining employer demand and rising social tensions between the locally born and foreign newcomers to the job market.

However, in Italy, the recession and more restrictive immigration policies did not prevent the growth in numbers of the legally residing foreign population, the pace of whose expansion appears unparalleled in Europe. Why did that happen and how is the return rate of migrants affected in this case?

The author critically analyzes the development of the transitional measures imposed on labor migrants from the Central and Eastern European countries to the EU-15 members with a particular focus on Italy and how these restrictions influenced Romanians’ migration there.
The author will also present the effects of the economic crisis on migrants’ proneness to return back home while following a qualitative research method by analyzing the data gathered after interviewing made in July 2012 with Romanian workers in Rivoli, a suburb of Turin, Italy, with a significant Romanian community.

The purpose of this thesis is therefore twofold. First, the author explores the relationship between the transitional measures and migratory waves from Eastern Europe from the 2004 and 2007 enlargements respectively. However, the largest part of the thesis consists in the research of the impact the economic crisis had on Romanian migrants in one of the biggest migrant communities in Italy and their propensity to return home as a safety net. The qualitative research shows that the return rate is low and slightly skewed towards the older, higher-educated, generally male interviewees having family back home.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Social Sciences


  • transitional arrangements
  • migration
  • Eastern enlargements
  • Italy
  • Romanian migrants
  • economic crisis
  • European Union


  • Anamaria Dutceac Segesten (Biträdande Lektor)