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From global to local : Human mobility in the Rome coastal area in the context of the global economic crisis*

Du global au local : la mobilité humaine dans la zone côtière de Rome sur fond de crise économique mondiale
Armando Montanari et Barbara Staniscia
p. 187-200


Cet article traite de la façon dont les problèmes causés par des changements globaux interfèrent avec les problèmes locaux dans les régions côtières. Il vérifie l’existence et la taille du phénomène local-global, en examinant l’impact de la récente crise économique mondiale sur le noyau et les franges des zones côtières de la région métropolitaine de Rome durant la période 2008-2010. En particulier, il compare l’évolution du marché immobilier avec les statistiques disponibles sur le tourisme et les migrations pour fournir un indicateur de la crise économique. Les résultats de la recherche montrent que dans une certaine mesure, il y a une relation entre une chute des prix des logements et un flux plus faible en termes de mobilité humaine.

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1Two apparently unrelated phenomena – human mobility and the economic crisis – began to overlap in certain areas of the world towards the end of the first decade of the third millennium. Both phenomena are global in terms of size and impact, and both are now affecting specific aspects of local communities, cultures and environments. Although each of these phenomena has been extensively researched, they have rarely been studied together. Examining the areas where they overlap complicates the analytical framework, but allows us to gain a better, more detailed understanding of their mutual implications. Coastal zones tend to be particularly affected by global changes. This paper examines the combined impact of the two phenomena on a specific coastal area where problems caused by the economic crisis have spread through the territory as a result of human mobility (the term is used here to encompass the flow of people, goods and information). The first part of the paper reviews theoretical considerations on the two subjects, while the second focuses on a particular case study – the coastal stretch of the Rome metropolitan area (RMA) in Italy.

Theoretical background : human mobility, coastal areas and economic crises

2Over the past few decades, researchers in various branches of social science have extensively analyzed many aspects of migration and the way it shapes social, economic and cultural change in countries of origin as well as host countries. These studies have been undertaken in the wake of large-scale migration flows starting from the early 20th century, when the foreign-born population made up 12.5 per cent of the total U.S. population. By the last decade of the second millennium, the number of foreign-born citizens and second-generation immigrants in America had grown to 20 per cent of the population, and it is estimated that they will comprise more than 30 per cent of the total U.S. population by 2025. In the European Union, on the other hand, foreign-born residents, including people born in other member states, accounted for less than 9 per cent of the total population in 2005. Tourist flows, another component of human mobility, are also showing an upward trend. According to World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) figures, international tourist arrivals have topped one billion, and this figure is expected to double over the next two decades. UNTWO also estimates that domestic tourism represents four to five times the volume of international tourism. Population geography studies have so far largely used “push-pull” theories (Dorigo and Tobler, 1983) based on empirical evidence of domestic and international migration in industrial and rural societies. Individuals migrate to areas offering better employment prospects than their normal place of residence. Such flows, traditionally generated by bilateral agreements between governments, were followed by migration for reasons of family reunification and to join networks of relatives and friends. Research has essentially focused on flows between countries, paying little attention to flows between specific places. This occurred since there were not relevant differences in terms of composition, organization and objectives of migration flows between two countries, from place to place. Any continuation of the process – with well-defined forms of return migration – followed the same logic in the opposite direction, from the destination country back to the origin country. The connection between local and global was, therefore, hierarchical, conditioned by decisions taken at central government level.

3While the various branches of social sciences take a substantially similar view of the nature of migration, there is no shared multidisciplinary approach in the research about migration. Brettel and Hollifield (2008) point out that geography focuses on motives and methods to explain the spatial pattern of migration, using macro, meso and micro-level approaches and predominantly drawing on relational, structuralist and transnational theories on migration (Jackson, 1989 ; Bonnet, 1996 ; Silvey, 1999 ; Liu, 2000 ; Bailey, 2001 ; Walton-Roberts, 2004 ; Montanari and Staniscia, 2009 ; Staniscia, 2009).

4Hardwick (2008) reviews the use of socio-spatial, transnational and social network theories in population geography research in recent decades. Wright, Ellis and Parks (2005) offer a comparative analysis of conventional and modified spatial assimilation theories. Alongside the study of these themes in population geography research, other branches have begun to examine the concept of human mobility – comprising phenomena that have grown to such an extent that they can no longer merely be assimilated with migration or tourist flows. Cresswell (1993, 1997) introduces a geographical reading of mobility, which in his view is, in social science research, a concept as important as the themes of place, space and society. In particular, Cresswell (2006) distinguishes between movement and mobility, arguing that movement is mobility abstracted from contexts of power (Adey, 2010).

5Two geographers (Hall and Williams, 2002) and a sociologist (Urry, 2000) have emphasized the need for research into different “mobilities” – of people, goods, images, information and culture ; their interdependency and their consequences for society. Urry (2000) points to the inadequacy of research into social mobility, which has deliberately ignored the way social classes, gender and ethnic groups intersect with regions and towns. Research has remained anchored to a static concept of human society by neglecting the study of new factors such as horizontal networks, mobility and fluidity. The new approach can be interpreted on the basis of the parameters of a sociology of fluids, where there are no points of departure or arrival and no specific reference scapes, and where particular directions and speeds are more important than purpose. Hence, factors such as viscosity and temporalities come into play. Fluids can escape through the wall of the scape into capillaries. Power is diffused and exercised through capillary relations and the intersection of fluids. Cresswell (2006) provides a further interpretation. He argues that human mobility implies the presence of complex beings – pedestrians and dancers, pilots and athletes, refugees and city dwellers, tourists and businessmen, men and women – and examines the interfaces created between physical bodies in movement and representations of mobility to understand situations that otherwise would be impossible to interpret (Adey, 2010).

6Since the 1970s, when migration engendered by bilateral agreements between governments came to an end, it has been increasingly difficult to measure and evaluate the phenomenon from an exclusively quantitative viewpoint. International migration has become a largely spontaneous phenomenon over the past several years, even though it can be traced to clearly identifiable economic, political and social causes. Using traditional statistical tools, it is only possible to register the number of a specific category of immigrants – those who have decided to reside in a place different from their country of origin and are “legally” entitled to do so for a period of over one year. It is also possible to register tourist arrivals, i.e. the number of people who reside in an officially recognized accommodation establishment in a place other than their usual place of residence for periods extending from one day to one year. In either case, there is little information on the motives for movement and the characteristics of the people who move – for example, an employee of a multinational company spending a few days or a few weeks in a hotel or apartment complex would typically be considered a tourist. A distinction is made between migratory and tourist flows, which are registered on the basis of arbitrary criteria such as border crossings, period of stay in the new place of residence and motives related to income generation and hence the payment of taxes. These parameters, which were sufficient a few decades ago to identify the bulk of human mobility, are now totally inadequate to evaluate the phenomenon. Human flows no longer move according to simple linear patterns in contemporary society ; they use complex network systems. The result is a direct connection between global and local, with no intermediary filters. There is no longer any need for an immediate cause and effect relationship ; an upheaval in the political, economic or cultural situation of a country is all it takes for network routes to be directly impacted. While the sensor of permanently unsettled situations has become obsolete as a primary vector, networks organized in fluid, hierarchical patterns have acquired relevance.

7Following the economic crisis of the 1970s, urban settlements underwent regional and urban restructuring in order to acquire a new international image. Renewed economic growth led to new flows of human mobility – whether permanent, semi-permanent, temporary or daily, for purposes of consumption (leisure and tourism) or production (economic migration). With global competition between metropolitan areas emphasizing the importance of natural and cultural resources, research into the effects of human mobility on the growth of urban settlements and restructuring in coastal areas takes on strategic importance because : a) the environment is more fragile and the space limited ; b) urban density and activities are very high and c) the human impact on the environment is stronger than elsewhere. Awareness of these effects, as well as knowledge of the environmental conditions of the coast and the preferences of use of the local population, can be extremely useful in helping administrations and businesses, especially in the building and tourism sectors, to plan future development sites for a variety of uses such as housing, shops and leisure centers. Climate change has influenced environmental parameters – e.g. a rising sea level – and complicated matters by leading to increased risks of flooding, the spread of pollution and the displacement of large numbers of inhabitants. The need to control and reduce the undesirable consequences of climate change can lead to increased conflicts among stakeholders. An integrated approach to the ecosystem incorporating the social, economic and natural disciplines is therefore key to understanding and resolving the complex and changing problems specific to coastal towns.

8Coastal zones have traditionally been considered hard-to-manage areas because of the overlapping of i) weather, tidal and seasonal problems ; ii) a particular physical environment in which the specific features of physical geography are superimposed on those of hydrography ; iii) jurisdictional problems, iv) the concurrent responsibilities of individual public administrations and v) diversified interests among various social groups. Longhorn (2005) points out that local, regional and national administrations are often in charge of different aspects of the same physical area and the same use of coastal areas, e.g. fishing, environment, agriculture, ground and sea transport, urban planning and the land registry and the national cartography centre and hydrographic service. In the Medi­terranean, where mountains press close to the sea, the coast is generally a narrow strip of fertile plain where infrastructure, services and economic growth are concentrated. Before the advent of industrialization, mobility essentially occurred between the mountains and the sea, and was therefore orthogonal to the coast. Braudel (1995) reminds us that poor mountain people motivated by the hope of a better life and the appeal of higher wages moved down to the coast and never went back up again ; this one-way flow is summed up by the Catalan proverb “baixar sempre, mountar no” (Always go down, never up). In countries like Italy, the growth model in the early stages of industrialization did not envisage intensive use of coastal areas, although there was a predominantly orthogonal flow of mobility towards the sea. With manufacturing, tourism and leisure infrastructure being set up along the coast from the earliest stages of industrialization, the bulk of mobility flows occurred along the coast, parallel to the sea. Coastal zones are vulnerable areas, as myriad natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and landslides in coastal areas all over the world have proved. Haque and Etkin (2007) differentiate between natural events and natural disasters (hazards) : the former are naturally occurring events, while the latter are defined as such in areas with a strong human presence. Coastal areas are also vulnerable to the risks of global warming and the much-feared sea-level rise, which would have a direct impact on the quality of life of inhabitants and could even make these areas inhabitable.

9Another global event – the economic crisis – has been superimposed on this situation since the tail end of the second millennium. Leiser and Rötheli (2010) affirm that global economic crises are now as inevitable as epidemics, resulting in an equally negative impact on people’s wellbeing and a similarly widespread state of uncertainty in society. The crisis that exploded in 2007 led to a wide-ranging debate on the responsibility of those in charge of financial markets as well as global economic and political choices. While some observers consider that poorly managed financial markets led to the crisis, others (Krugman, 2008) tend to blame the increasingly unequal distribution of income. Technically speaking, the crisis resulted from mortgage loans repackaged into mortgage-backed securities ; banks provided loans to low-income households, knowing that they would be incapable of repaying the loans. Banks were confident that house prices would continue to appreciate in a buoyant housing market, and that they would be able to repossess houses and sell them at a profit. To quote Presacco and Seravalli (2009) : “[...] what happened was that the financial institutions that granted large numbers of this kind of mortgage went bankrupt and the insolvency spread to other financial institutions through contagion or indirect involvement since, once the crisis had begun, the banks ceased lending money to one another [...]”. Another relevant aspect is the direct connection made between the financial and the real estate markets, as if they were indistinct fields following the same rules. Duca, Muellbauer and Murphy (2010) criticize models that consider housing markets to be as cash-rich and efficient as markets for standard financial instruments. Real estate markets are characterized by very important local specificities. Their underestimation can lead to wrong assessments and expectations about house prices. In the G7 countries, with the exception of Japan, house prices went up by 5 per cent between 1999 and the early months of 2007, with peaks of up to 9 per cent in the U.K. (Beltratti and Morana, 2010). Economic growth and low inflation rates led to a sharp increase in excess liquidity over the same period.

10An analysis of international migration trends shows that the business cycle and net migration rate are correlated (OECD, 2009). Since most migratory movements are production-led, i.e. job related, an economic downturn and a drop in the employment rate generally leads to a decrease in migration flows. The intensity of the decrease is not determined univocally : it depends on manpower specialization levels and the gap between the unemployment rates of the country of origin and the host country, respectively. These decreases are also influenced by migration policies. In Italy, for example, in a context of looming bankruptcy for a number of firms, the government fixed the immigration quota threshold at 150,000 in 2008, giving precedence to home help jobs and the backlog of applications. It would therefore seem that a decrease in the rate of migration is partly due to an economic downturn and partly to the migratory policies.

11The consequences of the recession – a drop in manufacturing and exports, unemployment and lack of consumers’ trust – have also affected tourism. The main slump – a 10-20 per cent drop in international tourist arrivals – was registered between January-April 2009. According to Smeral (2010), there are several indicators that domestic tourism and international tourism in the vicinity of the home country have been less affected by the crisis, as tourists have opted to play safe in terms of product cost and quality.

Evidence of human mobility and economic crisis affecting the coastal zone in the Rome metropolitan area

The Rome metropolitan area coast

  • 1 The following variables were considered :
    A – Economic activities : 1. Average daily flow of people (...)

12The Rome metropolitan area (RMA) was designed on the basis of several parameters with a focus on everyday and occasional commuting needs1.

13The RMA coastline stretches from the Tarquinia municipality in the north to the Nettuno municipality in the south. Figure 1 shows the RMA with the central city (hereafter referred to as the ‘core’), the inner ring suburbs and the outer ring suburbs – the latter two separated from the central city by the Grande Raccordo Anulare, or ring road. The coastal zone we focus on in this paper comprises a succession of towns on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Their landscape is made up of hill ranges in the form of a large amphitheatre enclosing Rome, with a plain squeezed into the sea by the Tolfa mountains around Civitavecchia and another plain towards the south, beyond the boundary of the RMA, at the base of the Ausoni mountains. The municipality of Rome dominates the RMA. The nerve centre of this coastal municipality is the historic centre of Rome, which is less than 30 km from the sea as the crow flies.

Figure 1. Rome Metropolitan Area.

Figure 1. Rome Metropolitan Area.

Table 1. Rome Metropolitan Area (RMA), resident population (thousands), 2001-2009.






Inner Ring



Outer Ring



Total RMA



Source : Tagliacarne Institute and Municipality of Rome, General Registry Office, various years.

14The resident population of the RMA increased by over 10 per cent in the 2001-2009 period, but an analysis of population growth in the area’s various territorial subdivisions shows that growth is concentrated in the inner ring, where new settlements – mainly residential districts for people working in the core – have come up around medieval towns. Over the past decade, the outer ring towns have also started growing faster than the average growth rate for the RMA. The public administration has not been able to keep up with the pace of residential decentralization to build a sufficiently large public transportation system. Municipality of Rome figures (2011) show that there are 2.5 million vehicles in circulation : 76 per cent cars and 15 per cent motorcycles, with lorries and buses making up the rest, i.e. a total of 934 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants. Of the seven million of daily movements, 90 per cent are done by residents in the municipality of Rome. Fifty-six per cent of the commuters use their own vehicles, 18 per cent use public transport and the rest go on foot. The residential decentralization and chronically inadequate public transport has led to increased traffic and congested roads.

15The RMA coast is 170 km long, extending from Tarquinia in the north to Nettuno in the south. For a better understanding of demographic changes along the Roman coastline over the past two decades (Table 2), we have examined the coastal municipalities in relation to their location within the RMA : (i) core, Rome (Municipio XIII) and Fiumicino ; (ii) northern inner ring (Civitavecchia, S.Marinella, Cerveteri and Ladispoli) and southern inner ring (Ardea, Pomezia and Anzio) and (iii) outer ring (Tarquinia and Nettuno).

Table 2. Coastal Area of the RMA, resident population (thousands), 2001-2008.






Inner Ring (North)



Inner Ring (South)



Outer Ring






Source : Tagliacarne Institute and Municipality of Rome, General Registry Office, various years.

Population and property

16The Rome municipality’s urban sprawl, especially in the 1950-1970 period, to areas far from the sea has led to underdevelopment in the rest of the Lazio region and, to some extent, the coastline as a whole, including parts of the Rome municipality. Development has been sacrificed to the demand for holiday homes and second homes for Romans who benefited from the economic boom of the 1960s and 1970s. Property developers involved in land speculation in the coastal towns have lured these people to the coast with promises of a new lifestyle. The opening of the Roma-Civitavecchia motorway in 1967 and new stations such as Ladispoli along the rail line in the 1970s have accelerated the process. An intercity train service started in 1994 with trains every 30 minutes between Roma and Ladispoli, and was extended to Civitavecchia in 1998. Seating capacity is 30,000 places per day on trains on the Roma-Civitavecchia line and 40,500 places per day on the Roma-Nettuno line. However, this public transport offer too has proved to be insufficient. As a result, the number of cars owned by households in the coastal municipalities (excluding Rome) has grown from around 150,000 in the early 1990s to around 300,000 in 2007. The phenomenon is even clearer when we compare the dynamics of the northern and southern parts of the coastal inner ring (Figure 2). The population of the northern coast grew from 104,000 to 123,000 inhabitants in the 1991-2001 period, climbing to 142,000 inhabitants from 2001 to 2007. In the same periods, the population of the southern coast grew from 87,000 to 107,000 and subsequently to 145,000. The people-car ratio was 2 people per car in 1991 in the northern section and settled at 1.8 persons per car from 2001 onwards. In the southern section of the coast, the ratio was 1.7 persons per car in 1991, settling at 1.6 persons per car after 2001.

Figure 2. Resident population and car ownership change, per thousands, 1991-2007.

Figure 2. Resident population and car ownership change, per thousands, 1991-2007.

Source : Istituto Tagliacarne.

17According to 2001 census figures, less than 10 per cent of houses in Civita­vecchia are unoccupied, compared to 30 per cent of houses in Ostia (Figure 3). The number of empty houses was higher than the number of occupied ones in the towns of Cerveteri, Ladispoli and Anzio. In the towns of Ardea and S.Marinella, the number of empty houses was more than double the number of occupied ones. Until a few decades ago, housing in the coastal towns was almost exclusively made up of second homes owned by households living in Rome, used only occasionally. From the 1970s and 1980s onwards, there has been a gradual trend towards renting those houses in the winter months to new immigrants, often without a proper rental contract.

Figure 3. Occupied and unoccupied dwellings, 2001.

Figure 3. Occupied and unoccupied dwellings, 2001.

Source : Istat.

Trends in real estate market

18The analysis of house prices is based on data from different sources : (i) BIR, Borsa Immobiliare di Roma (the Rome Real Estate Exchange) set up on the initiative of the Rome Chamber of Commerce (data supplied over several years), (ii) the Osservatorio Mercato Immobiliare (OMI), or Property Market Observatory of the Agenzia del Territorio, a government land registry and appraisal organization and (iii) Ufficio Studi Tecnocasa, a network of property brokerage agencies.

19According to Tecnocasa data, price growth for residential properties in the city of Rome oscillated between 4 and 8 per cent per six month-period from 2000 to 2010, peaking at 9 per cent between 2000 and 2006 and subsequently dropping to zero per cent in the first half of 2008. In the second half of 2008, prices dropped reaching a minimum of minus 4 per cent, subsequently stabilizing from the first half of 2010. Prices are expected to remain permanently stable in 2011 as a result of economic recovery, with a 2-3 per cent increase in the number of transactions. The events in North African and Middle Eastern countries, which began early 2011 and are still ongoing, are a reminder that global economic phenomena can impact local property markets and transactions. Rises in crude oil and raw material prices raise the specter of inflation, as the European Central Bank (ECB) warned in early March 2011. The subsequent increase in the cost of money would create a rise in average mortgage rates, which are often indexed to Euribor rates. It is possible that the 2008 scenario, when ECB rates (4.25 %) and the Euribor rate (over 5 %) were far higher than the current rate (approx. 1.1 %), could be replayed.

20Figure 4 compares 1998 and 2008 prices in selected towns and administrative divisions of the Roman coastline, from north to south, with prices in Trevi in the historic centre (home to the famous Trevi Fountain) and the upscale EUR business and residential district located between the historical centre and the sea. While prices rose across the board, prices for coastline properties are markedly lower than in the more prestigious areas of central Rome (with the exception of Civitavecchia), which confirms that the coastal area is still viewed as being suburban. Price trends were examined for the crisis period – average prices of each semester of the period 2008 to 2010 – for the core areas (Figure 5) and the southern section of the inner ring using OMI data, which do not necessarily correspond to BIR figures. Nevertheless, the analysis confirms previous hypotheses regarding the RMA. House prices in the core are markedly superior to prices in the inner ring suburbs, and prices remained stable or tended to diminish in the 2008-2010 period (except for 2009), lagging slightly behind average prices in Rome. The market recovered in the first half of 2010, with significantly higher prices in prestigious districts. Although all the prices shown come from official sources, they are merely indicative. Tecnocasa’s September 2010 list prices for the most sought-after part of Ostia are € 200,000-€ 260,000 for a two-bedroom house, € 240,000-€ 300,000 for a three-bedroom house and up to € 400,000-500,000 for a 100 sq. m. loft with a 30 sq. m. terrace.

Figure 4. Max. house prices (euros per sq. m.), 2008-2010.

Figure 4. Max. house prices (euros per sq. m.), 2008-2010.

Source : BIR.

Figure 5. Max. house prices (euros per sq. m.), 2008-2010.

Figure 5. Max. house prices (euros per sq. m.), 2008-2010.

Source : OMI.

The economic crisis and human mobility

21We have used population register office statistics, the presence of foreign residents and tourist flows to analyze the impact of the global economic crisis on various forms of human mobility. The very nature of human mobility means that it also – and often predominantly – occurs in the form of irregular and informal flows, which are either not officially registered, or cannot be registered by the various data collection tools. The data used in this chapter are official statistics, so any small changes may indicate a trend, but not its full extent.

22A large number of Italians and foreigners registered as new residents in the inner ring coastal towns, both northern and southern, in the 2002-2009 period. The number of these in-migrants was only partially balanced out by the number of people who applied for their names to be removed from the register. Figure 6 shows that incoming registrations declined sharply in 2008-2009. We have not included the core, where the phenomenon is of a similar size to the two inner ring areas and is therefore a negligible percentage of the total reference population. The stock of officially registered foreign nationals in the coastal municipalities increased constantly in the 2000-2009 period, with a slight slowdown from 2008 to 2009 (Figure 7). The 13 largest foreign communities in the coastal towns in 2009 came from : Romania, Poland, Ukraine, Egypt, India, Albania, the Philippines, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Peru, China, Bangladesh, Ecuador. All these nationalities at least doubled in size in the period 2003-2009. Romanians were the first foreign nationals to arrive on the coast in 2003, and their numbers have increased at least five-fold to more than 20,000 inhabitants in 2009. There are also large communities of Romanians in Rome-Municipio XIII, Fiumicino, Ladispoli and Pomezia.

Figure 6. In-migrants and out-migrants (per thousand), 2002-2009.

Figure 6. In-migrants and out-migrants (per thousand), 2002-2009.

Source : Istituto Tagliacarne.

Figure 7. Foreign population, per thousand (2000-2009).

Figure 7. Foreign population, per thousand (2000-2009).

Source : Istituto Tagliacarne.

23The tourist flows of the past decade should be considered within the context of tourism supply and demand in a region overshadowed by the presence of Rome, where the coastal area with its focus on holiday home tourism and leisure is of limited interest. The Great Jubilee of the year 2000, the key event of the decade, transformed the regional offer with a host of new services, infrastructure and accommodation establishments. The Jubilee celebrations were watched throughout the world and continued to positively influence demand for some years after the event. Public and business policy has been geared towards filling up establishments at a reasonable distance from Rome rather than building new hotels in the city centre. As part of new tourism-related initiatives, Civitavecchia port started operating as a cruise ship terminal in 2000. The specialization has grown over time : starting with approximately 300,000 cruise passengers in 1999, Civitavecchia will handle an estimated 2,000,000 passengers this year. Leisure cruises in the area were barely affected by the global economic crisis, with only a 0.9 % drop in the number of cruise passengers between 2008 and 2009. The marked downturn in international tourism at the end of the decade (Hall, 2010) had little effect on tourism to the historical centre of Rome because of the city’s exceptional offer ; Rome’s problem was quality rather than quantity (Montanari and Staniscia, 2010). Rome hotels offset the effects of the crisis by cutting prices to become more competitive with other European historical centers (Montanari, 2010).

24However, tourist overnights showed a different trend in the coastal area. The number of overnights increased from 140,000 in 1998 to 337,000 in 2007 in the northern section of the coast and dropped to 298,000 in 2008. In the southern sections, the figure of 514,000 overnights in 1998 remained stable until 2004, when they increased to 524,000, subsequently repeatedly increasing to 1,039,000 in 2007 and then dropping to 931,000 in 2008. The decrease in arrivals of a specific nationality was counterbalanced by an increase in new flows, especially middle class visitors from emerging countries. The coastal areas, which have traditionally attracted only local and domestic tourists, have felt the impact of the economic crisis more keenly.


25This paper has analyzed the effects of the global economic crisis on the coastal zone of the Rome metropolitan area, taking three categories of human mobility into account : (i) residential mobility, including an analysis of the property market, (ii) migration, including an analysis of foreign communities and (iii) tourism, through an analysis of the dynamics of the sector. The analysis confirms the trends that international research has brought to light.

26In this case study, the economic crisis has moved through the banking system to the financing of new constructions, which previously contributed to residential decentralization along the coast. The crisis has negatively impacted households with increased monthly mortgage repayment rates, and therefore caused a slump in demand for new housing and reduced the number of transactions. This has made it harder to buy and sell property, which has become a more long-drawn-out process, with house prices decreasing as a result.

27Finally, despite the lack of availability of data about tourism and migration as sophisticated as the ones concerning the economic system, it is clear that the various forms of human mobility tended to decrease between 2008 and 2010.

The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement n°244251.

*Although this contribution is the result of a joint collaboration by the two authors, Montanari wrote the paragraph on Theorethical Background and Staniscia the paragraph on Evidences on Human Mobility and Economic Crisis.

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1 The following variables were considered :
A – Economic activities : 1. Average daily flow of people going to/from Rome to work ;
B – Social services : 2. Average daily flow of people going to/from Rome to university ; 3. Average daily flow of people going to/from Rome to attend high school ; 4. Annual flow of people going to/from Rome for a hospital stay.
C – Cultural links : 5. Number of second homes occupied by Rome municipality residents ; 6. Changes in residence from/to Rome in the period 1976/1981 ; 7. Changes in residence from/to Rome in the period 1987/1988.
D – Territorial characteristics : 8. Level of accessibility to Rome, measured by transportation costs.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Rome Metropolitan Area.
Fichier image/jpeg, 316k
Titre Figure 2. Resident population and car ownership change, per thousands, 1991-2007.
Crédits Source : Istituto Tagliacarne.
Fichier image/jpeg, 108k
Titre Figure 3. Occupied and unoccupied dwellings, 2001.
Crédits Source : Istat.
Fichier image/jpeg, 172k
Titre Figure 4. Max. house prices (euros per sq. m.), 2008-2010.
Crédits Source : BIR.
Fichier image/jpeg, 92k
Titre Figure 5. Max. house prices (euros per sq. m.), 2008-2010.
Crédits Source : OMI.
Fichier image/jpeg, 88k
Titre Figure 6. In-migrants and out-migrants (per thousand), 2002-2009.
Crédits Source : Istituto Tagliacarne.
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Titre Figure 7. Foreign population, per thousand (2000-2009).
Crédits Source : Istituto Tagliacarne.
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Armando Montanari et Barbara Staniscia, « From global to local : Human mobility in the Rome coastal area in the context of the global economic crisis* »Belgeo, 3-4 | 2011, 187-200.

Référence électronique

Armando Montanari et Barbara Staniscia, « From global to local : Human mobility in the Rome coastal area in the context of the global economic crisis* »Belgeo [En ligne], 3-4 | 2011, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2012, consulté le 01 décembre 2020. URL :; DOI:

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Armando Montanari

Sapienza University of Rome, Department of European, American and Intercultural Studies,

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Barbara Staniscia

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Licence Creative Commons
Belgeo est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International.

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