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Center Publication

Italy—Public Policy

by Isabella Blengini

May 2010—Lack of financial support and appropriate incentives for research is resulting in a Brain Drain of Italian educated elite. Italy is characterized by low rates of retention and attraction of ‘talent’ such as university graduates, researchers, scientists and other high-skilled human capital.

  • The percentage of workers with PhDs arriving in the US from Italy increased by 183% from 1990 to 2000.

Causes of this out-migration include:

  • Extremely poor public funding for research from both public and private sectors;
  • Career advancement for Italian PhDs almost impossible within first 10 years of degree; and
  • Requires all labor contracts to be in writing and imposes significant penalties on employers for failing to comply; and
  • Low salaries, few positions, bureaucracy, and the lack of a real meritocracy.

This is a problem with national significance because net current outflows of Italian talent mean limited innovation for Italy in the immediate future.

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