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The reasons of scientists mobility: results from the comparison of outgoing and ingoing fluxes of researchers in Italy

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  • M.Carolina Brandi

    () (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policy, National Research Centre)

  • Sveva Avveduto

    (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policy National Research Council)

  • Loredana Cerbara

    (Institute for Research on Population and Social Policy National Research Council)

Abstract

IRPPS/CNR finalised, in 2001, a questionnaire designed to mine information about foreigners engaged in research in Italy. We found that the numerical presence of foreign researchers was not proportionately negligible with respect to the total number of researchers in Italian public research institutes. This survey therefore demonstrates that Italian research institutes were securely connected to the international circuit of scientists and allowed us to recognize some of the main reasons of these peculiar migrations. However, the intake of foreign researchers in Italy is far lower than the outflow of Italian researchers abroad, though the dimension of the last flux is extremely hard to be determined, since no reliable statistical records are collected on this topic. Because of this reason, we recently started a new survey dedicated to the Italian researchers working abroad. Being their total number unknown, we are using the "snowball sampling” method in order to reach the highest number of subjects. The starting sample was taken from the DAVINCI data-base, available on the web site of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and composed by data voluntarily inserted by about 2000 Italian researchers working abroad. All the registered scientists were asked by e-mail to fulfil a questionnaire, basically equal to the one used for the previous survey on the foreign researchers working in Italy. Though this research is just started, its preliminary results seem to confirm the findings of the previous one concerning the reasons of what we might call the "natural mobility” of researchers: when scientists move abroad, they are generally motivated by a desire to engage in quality work, whereas other considerations that are very important to other professionals, such as economic compensation, are less important. By the way, our surveys also revealed a basic difference between the outgoing and ingoing fluxes of researchers in Italy: while the large majority of foreign scientists working in Italy plan to come back home, the largest share of the interviewees Italian researchers working abroad do not will to do the same. In both cases, the chief reasons for the scientist’s reluctance to settle in Italy can be ascribed to the unlikelihood of permanent contracts of employment and the poor prospects for career advancement in Italian public research institutes, universities and companies. This unfortunate situation, jeopardizing the Italian capability to compete in the present day knowledge based economy, is also confirmed by the results that we gathered from the analysis of the subsamples of Italian graduates working abroad from the 2007 yearly AlmaLaurea Survey on Italian Graduates’ Employment Conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • M.Carolina Brandi & Sveva Avveduto & Loredana Cerbara, 2011. "The reasons of scientists mobility: results from the comparison of outgoing and ingoing fluxes of researchers in Italy," Working Papers 44, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
  • Handle: RePEc:laa:wpaper:44
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    File URL: http://www2.almalaurea.it/universita/pubblicazioni/wp/pdf/wp44.pdf
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    1. Michel Beine & Frédéric Docquier & Hillel Rapoport, 2007. "Measuring International Skilled Migration: A New Database Controlling for Age of Entry," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(2), pages 249-254, June.
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