ABSTRACT

Southern European countries, especially Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, were a major migration destination region for both European and non-European migrants in the late 1970s, soaring through the 1980s (King et al. 2000; King 2001; Anthias and Lazaridis 2000; Bonifazi et al. 2008). Of these Southern European countries, Italy provides a good case in point. In the period 1990-2000, the stock of immigrants doubled in Italy; increasing from about 650,000 to almost 1,300,000 (Zontini 2010: 3). According to another estimate, between 1986 and 2004, the legally resident foreign population rose from under 300,000 to an estimated 2.6 million, accounting for 4.5 per cent of the total population (Chaloff 2006: 149). The number of immigrants in Italy reached a little over 4.8 million in 2009 (Cesareo 2009: 11). With the fall in employment visas and the rise in family reunion visas in recent years (SOPEMI 2010: 214), Italy has indeed transformed from a country of labour migration to that of family immigration and settlement. Italy has been one of the major destinations for the Bangladeshi migrants in Southern Europe. For instance, Bangladeshi immigrants living in Italy numbered around 84,000 in 2009 (Blangiardo 2009: 35). The number of (regular) Bangladeshi migrants is projected to reach 118,000 in 2015, 158,000 in 2020, and 232,000 in 2030 (Blangiardo 2009: 49). In addition to regular immigrants, Italy also hosts a large number of irregular immigrants from both European and nonEuropean countries (King 2001). The number of irregular Bangladeshi emigrants was reported to have been 11,000 in 2009 (Blangiardo 2009: 35). However, another source suggests that the number of irregular Bangladeshi emigrants was nearly 74,000 in 2009.1 This growing presence of Bangladeshi emigrants is indicative that Bangladeshis availed the immigration opportunity in Italy brought about by periodic changes in its immigration laws since the mid-1980s. Bangladeshi migrants in Italy are predominantly single male migrants living under ‘transnationally split’ (Yeoh et al. 2002) conditions, and are obligated to maintain economic and social relations with their family members back home. The obligation of maintaining sustained economic and social ties with their home stems from the dominance of the family in the social and economic affairs of Bangladeshi society. Migration decisions have been household strategies to diversify risk and to accumulate capital for investment in the developing

countries (Stark 1991). An individual migrant is deeply enmeshed in a complex web of household relations and dependencies: he/she moves internationally for work as an envoy of the extended family that places the well-being of the extended family above the individual migrant’s interests. Whether it is temporary labour migration such as migration to the Middle East, or more permanent forms of migration such as migration to Italy, maintaining sustained economic relations with left-behind families remains one of the key priorities for migrant members (Ullah 2010). This is increasingly evident in the annual inflow of remittances to Bangladesh, which increased from around US$4.2 billion in 2005 to nearly US$11 billion in 2010.2 The economic relations between migrants and their families are often the centre of discussion in the migration-development debate. However, existing studies often tend to highlight the migration-development nexus in the context of selected developed countries such as the United States, Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom, or of popular labour migration countries in Asia and Africa (Papademetriou and Martin 1991; Hermele 1997; Piper 2009). Southern European countries, being a new migration destination, are not adequately highlighted in the debate on migration and development. In particular, there is a dearth of research on the linkages between migrants and their families left behind in some new source countries in Asia. This study attempts to close the gap in existing scholarship by highlighting the Bangladeshi migration to Italy and developmental implications on migrant households left behind in Bangladesh. After decades of pessimism and concern, governments of source countries have put renewed hopes on transnationally-oriented migrants as potential actors of development (Schiller and Faist 2010). Hopes are pinned on transnational migrants sending remittances to their families in origin countries (Faist 2010). Scholars revisiting the debate on the migration-development nexus increasingly see migration as a process and as an integral part of broader transformation processes in society (Faist et al. 2011). This research highlights migration as a process and explains remittance-induced changes at the household level in terms of development process. This is in line with Amartya Sen’s views on development as a process of increasing the freedoms of the people, or in short, ‘development as freedom’ (Sen 1999). From an empirical perspective, Sen has proposed three capabilities that are the proximate determinants of the basic freedoms: health, education and income. This study assesses the implication of migrationinduced remittances in terms of these three determinants. In particular, this study attempts to address the following research questions: What is the context of immigrant reception in Italy? What are the sociodemographic profiles of Bangladeshi migrants in Italy? What is the trend of Bangladeshi migration to Italy? What is the trend of remittance flows from Italy to Bangladesh? What are the channels of Bangladeshi migration to Italy? What is the economic cost of migration? How do migrants finance their migration expenses? What are the implications of remittances on family dynamics? This chapter starts by presenting the data sources for the study. The next section provides the context of immigrant reception in Italy in light of the

changes in immigration laws. This is followed by the socio-demographic characteristics of Bangladeshi migrants in Italy. Subsequent sections focus on the channels of Bangladeshi migration to Italy, and implications of remittances for family dynamics. The final section gives a summary of the findings of the study.