Mass migration is essential to Italy’s survival and without it the country’s pension system will collapse, Pasquale Tridico, the outgoing president of the country’s National Institute for Social Security (INPS), has claimed.
In an interview with La Stampa newspaper, Tridico warned that “without migrants, INPS accounts will be critical in 20 years.” He claimed that the most advanced nations in Europe “all have many migrants” and that Italy needs “to cover the demand for medium-low jobs from North to South with foreigners.”
“The solution can only be the access of regular and fluid immigration,” he added, insisting that gaps in the Italian labor market can only be filled through foreign migrants and claiming the flow of mass migration must be “constant.”
Tridico claimed that with a falling birth rate and an aging population, mass migration was the only option. “Today we have 16.5 million retirees. With less than 400,000 newborns, in about 20 years we will have 230,000 graduates. Under current conditions, 150,000 will have a job. Looking ahead, we will have roughly the same number of people retiring and entering the labor market,” he said.
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The concept was dismissed in a critique of Tridico’s remarks by the Il Giornale newspaper, which called his comments a grave oversimplification.
The proposal also repeats an “instrumental rhetoric of immigration as an end in itself, which identifies the migrant in a purely servile function,” the newspaper claimed.
“Immigrants are not a separate category who ‘pay pensions’ or receive subsidies, but will contribute and receive individually in relation to their income, the services received and future social security coverage. And, which Tridico seems to forget, they will in turn age, becoming recipients of the system. So the general point is linked to how much the economic system will grow and develop in relation to a population with an increasing average age, both for Italians and for foreigners,” wrote the paper.
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Stefano Candiani, the former undersecretary of state at the Italian interior ministry and a member of Matteo Salvini’s League party, also objected. “They want to replace the workforce, Italians, with low-cost workers,” he said in an interview with La7 television channel.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni weighed into the debate on Tuesday, dismissing the idea that the only reference model for a functioning society is that of promoting a citizen’s income.
On the issue of importing workers from overseas to plug a gap in the labor market, Meloni instead opted to focus on mobilizing Italians first and foremost, and women in particular.
“I believe that before arriving at the issue of immigration we need to work, for example, on the possibility of involving many more women in the labor market,” the Italian premier said.
“By raising the levels of female work and bringing them to the European average, our data would already change a lot, and also by working on demography and therefore on encouraging the possibility for families to have children,” she added.
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The mobilization of nationals not currently working is a concept borrowed from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who recently announced similar plans to fill job vacancies before opening up his country’s borders.
At an event hosted by the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MKIK) last month, Orbán told attendees: “Hungary belongs to the Hungarians. We cannot allow foreign labor to be allowed in for the sake of convenience. Otherwise, we will lose our security.”
“It must be made clear that emphasis is being placed on the mobilization of reserves within the country,” he added.
Proponents of mass immigration to fix pension problems also discount the enormous cost of migrants. Germany, for instance, is spending tens of billions of euros for education, integration, healthcare, and social benefits — often with extremely poor results. Norway reported in 2020 that nearly €7 billion had been spent on workforce integration for migrants, but only about half of them were working. The issue of crime cannot be overlooked either. In Italy, over half of rapes are committed by foreigners, and foreign groups that have failed to integrate have also added to the organized crime problem in the country.