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Care and domestic workers in Italy

Expert interview with Maurizio Ambrosini (Milan University) on migrant care and domestic workers in Italy
First of all, the immigration of domestic and care workers to Italy is connected with the fact that the family is still a central institution in Italian and southern European society. Here many services to persons are provided in the households. Families– and to be more precise, adult women– provide education for children, food for the family, cleaning, ironing, and other services to the normal daily life of an Italian family. But now adult women work also outside the family. Also now in recent years, in recent decades in Italy– but also in Spain, in Greece–
manages to combine work for the market outside of the home and care for frail persons, mainly now old persons, by hiring someone else. And this help– to the normal life of family, this help employed mainly now to take care of old persons is provided by immigrant care workers. They come now in the last years mainly from Eastern Europe–
from countries like the Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Romania. At the end of the last century there were a few coming from Latin America. For domestic work, Italy hires workers from the Philippines and from other countries. So we can say that the Italian welfare regime, and the Southern European welfare regime, is based mainly on the family, more than in other Western countries. But the family now needs to be helped by other forces, And this support to Italian families is mainly provided by immigrant care workers.
Yes, the insertion of immigrant care workers in the Italian labour market is connected to deep segmentation of the Italian labour market. In a few words, a family– a middle-class family– can hire a domestic or care worker only if this care worker has a salary well below the family income. Otherwise, this meeting– this matching between the labourer and the supply would not be possible.
We can add that the domestic worker has a very low consideration in public opinion in Italy. Their salary is low in comparison with the salary of the working class. Their labour contract is less generous than the others. They enjoy less rights for many aspects. For instance, the vacation for maternity is not the same as it is for the other workers. But getting back to the theories, another important theory is the theory of global cities elaborated by Saskia Sassen. Global towns need janitors, need cleaners, need food workers in restaurants, in pubs, in pizzerias.
But they need also– the Italian version and the Southern European version of this argument is they need the domestic worker to enjoy a good quality of private life. Many services that in the United States are both on the market– laundries, restaurants– in Italy are provided in the households. So I think that the combination, or the segmentation of the labour market, and the global cities theory can explain these aspects of Italian immigration.

Interview with Maurizio Ambrosini, University of Milan, Italy.

We asked Maurizio the following questions:

Question no.1: Why do domestic and care workers migrate to Italy?

Question no.2: Is this an example of dual labour market theory?

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Why Do People Migrate? Theories

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