Brain Drain and Brain Gain in Italy and Ireland in the Age of Mass Migration

  • Matteo GomelliniEmail author
  • Cormac Ó Gráda
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Economic History book series (PEHS)


Emigrants from Italy and Ireland contributed disproportionately to the age of mass migration. That their departure improved the living standards of those they left behind is hardly in doubt. Nevertheless, a voluminous literature on the selectivity of migrant flows—from both sending and receiving country perspectives—has given rise to claims that migration generates both “brain drains” and “brain gains.” On the one hand, positive or negative selection among emigrants may affect the level of human capital in sending countries. On the other hand, the prospect of emigration and return migration may both spur investment in schooling in source countries. This essay describes the history of emigration from Italy and Ireland during the age of mass migration from these perspectives.


Migration Brain drain Brain gain Human capital Italy Ireland 


F22 J61 F22 J61 N33 O15 


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Banca d’ItaliaRomeItaly
  2. 2.University College DublinDublinIreland

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