In the global history of human migration, the emigration out of Italy is unique. Between 1869 and 2015 some 30 million people left Italy. As a result, today we count 17.2 million Italian Americans who constitute 5.4 percent of the U.S. population, 19.7 italo-argentini who constitute 46 percent of the population in Argentina, and 27.2 million italo-brasiliani in Brasil. This is the footprint left by the massive outflow of Italians documented in this chapter. Emigrating is, essentially, an action geared to seeking improved wellbeing. In this chapter we use new datasets in order to tell a story that is made of lives, suffering, sacrifices, losses, and disappointments, but also of pride, of enthusiasm for the prospects of a better life, of success and the joy of reunions. The study of migration in the past helps to reduce the gap between perception and reality in today’s debate.
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