Why are more and more young Italians moving to the Netherlands?

Not much to my surprise, the NOS recently decided to focus on the influx of young educated Italians coming to work in the Netherlands. How come people with a university degree, from a first world country (and the third biggest economy in Europe) are fleeing their undoubtedly beautiful motherland to come to cold rainy Netherlands?

Well, if you read a recently published feature on Nature, it will become clear why more scientists have left the country since 2008 than have entered it, according to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Italians moving to the Netherlands: Educational system

Italy has a very good educational system. It is free, it is comprehensive, but it is also a bit outdated (especially regarding STEM faculties): you get a lot of theoretical knowledge, but either very little or very budgeted practical experience. That’s why students either go abroad for internships (my personal case) or they become really good at doing research with low budgets (which also make them attractive to other institutes!).

Italians moving to the Netherlands
Source: Nature

Italians moving to the Netherlands: Low pay

Since we are eager to prove our value after years of studying, we are not afraid of earning less than, for example, Dutch people: the lowest pay here is anyway far higher than what we’d get for an average position in Italy, and it’s not like the expenses are that different (especially for big cities like Rome or Milan). If you’re Dutch, imagine that you would get 1250 euro something for a full-time job after leaving college! Yeah, that’s not much huh?

Bureaucracy and funding

Bureaucracy in Italy is a massive monster of which you can’t see the beginning nor the end. If you want to develop a start-up or become an entrepreneur, it is basically impossible unless you have a big bag of money ready to give up. Academic hiring is practically been blocked for decades, and often researchers have to spend a lot of time worrying about getting enough funding to pay the rent rather than about their research.


Our political system is focused on the elderly. It is not surprising for us to see that the parties campaigning for this year’s national elections are far more interested in attracting old voters (through promises of higher pensions) rather than young ones (by actually increasing qualified job offers). Also, this character is still running this year:

Italians moving to the Netherlands: Anti-science movements

Not unlike many other developed countries, we’ve also seen our fair share of anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers and so on. So much so that our government had to actually make 12 vaccines compulsory, as a measles outbreak with almost 5000 cases exploded last year (six-fold increase compare to the average in previous years). The problem now is that the party heading to have the highest number of votes counts among its members many who supported anti-science campaigns, including that against vaccination.

Why is this situation not changing?

I don’t actually know how to answer that. Maybe it is because so few young people in Italy actually vote; and how are you supposed to influence your system if you’re not participating in its decisions?

Or maybe it is also because so many people, including me, give up and decide they’re better off somewhere else, where the quality of life is much higher and the problems much smaller. To my fellow young Italians in Italy: I applaud your courage, and I hope things will change for the better!

So what are your thoughts on Italians moving to the Netherlands? Are you one that did? Feel welcome to comment!

Aurora Signorazzi
Aurora Signorazzi
Aurora comes from the majestic Italian capital, and is working on her PhD in virology at the University of Groningen. She has been living in the Netherlands for four years and is by now familiar with many Dutch habits... But still finds plenty of reasons to be pleasantly amazed (most of the time) by this industrious country and its brutally honest inhabitants!


  1. In many cases I don’t think it’s because of salary (not anymore). At least in my sector (data science) salaries here are not that differerent from what one could make in Milan. But on average the work culture is much better here. Less “slavery”, career growth is more accessible, and in general your work is more respected. That really makes a difference. Also, there are much, much more opportunities here. For instance, in Italy we do have some excellent research institutions with salaries that can compete with the rest of Europe (IIT in Genova, JRC in Varese, IMT in Lucca…), but they simply are not enough to absorb all the young talents.

  2. The plague of Italy is gerontocracy and nepotism. It permeate every layer of Italian society and hurts the country future.

  3. We like Nederland because it’s too easy for us. Easy work, good pay and in a lot of job we are more motiveted than Dutch people so we grow up easily inside the company

    • More motivated? I dont think so dutch people are just more down to earth so it might seem like it but we take our jobs seriously. Its in our culture.

  4. article full of no sense common beliefs. people are leaving due to a party that is anti scientific? first this party is not controlling anything even if it is going to close the school id I’m going to change nation is for reasons of pasts that are influencing my present.
    second is not anti scientific just because is against having a mandatory mass sanitary treatment like the government has done recently.

    • Hi Salvatore. Maybe for you it doesn’t make sense, but if you read the article attentively it is focused on why many young educated (university) Italians are coming to the Netherlands. Most of my uni colleagues left Italy (for the NL or France or Germany or UK) exactly for these reasons. The party may not be controlling anything (yet), however the influence these anti scientific ideas are having on the general public makes it all the more difficult to keep biotech industries or research going. Which has a direct impact on the amount of jobs, salaries, etc.
      Secondly, a “mandatory mass sanitary treatment” was done to prevent an even bigger increase on the outbreak of diseases which were long gone; what would you call a prejudicial (and misinformed) distrust in vaccines if not anti scientific?

  5. As a black guy who schooled in Italy at the University of Padova, let’s hope the Italians leave behind their racism before moving to the Netherlands.
    I know the Dutch are no saints, but they are way better than the Italians when it comes to xenophobia.
    If you doubt me, google racism in Italian football, and see how some poor Italians in the stadiums find it easy to racially abuse successful black soccer players.
    It’s equally worse in their education system, you have to work twice as hard to not get labeled as lazy by Italian professors.
    It’s a shame that after graduating 110 cum laude, I turned down a PhD position in the lab of my thesis supervisor because I honestly couldn’t see myself living in Italy for another 4 years.
    Maybe getting a taste of their own medicine as foreigners in Netherlands, will help change their mentality.


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