The needs of the Social Security system and anti-immigration political priorities are clashing in Italy.
In the annual report of the Social Security Foundation — Istituto Nazionale della Previdenza Sociale (INPS) – published on Wednesday, it is argued that Italy needs migrants to sustain its pension system.
Led by Professor Tito Boeri – of Bocconi University – INPS manages a €400bn budget and provides for both private and public-sector employees.
Boeri reiterated on Wednesday that Italy needs migrant workers to address the challenge of longevity and called for a system of legal immigration. Boeri is warning that Italians should not “underestimate the percentage of the population that is over 65” and “overestimate the number of immigrants and people under 14.”
The far-right Lega and the Five Star Movement (MS5) campaigned on the promise of halting immigration to Italy.
For the moment, Boeri argued, the system can withstand pressure, “as long as the automatic adaptation of the retirement age in relation to life expectancy is kept.” The Five-Star Movement (MS5) is already committed to lowering the age of retirement. The system cannot compensate for the loss of migrants arriving in Italy, Boeri warns.
The reaction of the Minister of the Interior and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini was immediate: “the President of INPS continues to practice politics, ignoring the desire to work – and have children – of many Italians,” the Interior Minister argued.
Salvini rejected both the argument that the age of retirement should not be lowered and that immigration is beneficial to the social security system. “Where does he live, on Mars?,” Salvini asked.
According to the latest UN projections, Italy has 5 million foreign residents that accounts for a 7.5% share of the population; that includes 500,000 children born to foreign nationals. There are approximately one million Romanians, half a million Moroccans, and half a million Albanians.
Italy faces an acute ageing population challenge. According to the CIA Factbook approximately 13% of the population is aged 55-to-64 years old and 21,5% are 65 or over. That is better than Germany but worse than France, although chronic unemployment and productivity in Italy compares unfavourably with all G7 economies.