Place:Southern European people

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Southern European people are a pan-ethnic group, or multi-ethnic regional grouping, and the inhabitants of Southern Europe. South or Southern Europeans can usually trace back full or partial heritage to Greece, Italy, Spain , Portugal, as well as nations bordering with, or ethnoculturally related to, the region. As the pan-ethnic group is also culturally defined, rather than exclusively a geographical category, it often includes peoples inhabiting areas that are, at times, considered outside of the region. This can include people with heritage from Southern France, the Mediterranean islands of Corsica (also part of France ), Malta and Cyprus (geographically part of West Asia), Southeastern Europe's Albania and European Turkey.

There are also descriptions of Southern Europeans which include ancestry from other nations in Southeast Europe, and countries of the South Slavs, particularly in diasporic identification. As Slavs, they are also often identified as Eastern Europeans. There is a large Southern European diaspora, with significant concentrations in the United Kingdom, North America (Southern European Americans and Canadians), and Southern European Australians in Oceania.

Other subgroups of Europeans include Eastern European people and Northwestern European people.


Southern European people have been widely identified as a distinct pan-ethnic group, being researched academically,[1] studied culturally and reported on in journalistic and scholarly works.[2] Although Southern Europeans are often defined by heritage or descent from the geographic southern extremities of Europe, the identification also has cultural meaning, and includes various peoples native to regions adjoining with, or islands in, the Mediterranean sea.

Many of the territories in Macaronesia are geographically closer to Africa than Europe, and remain significantly populated by Portuguese and Spanish people. Cyprus is geographically considered one of the westernmost parts of West Asia, and is populated mainly by Greek Cypriots. In this regard, Southern Europeans are a cultural and pan-ethnic group, as well as a geographic category and the modern inhabitants of Southern Europe. In diasporic terms, the grouping has been broadened to include a wider scope of nationalities, whether through convenience or Anglo-centric perspectives, such as with Americans or Australians of Southern European descent.[3]


In 2013, Ed Vulliamy suggested that Northwestern Europeans revered Southern European lifestyles, while their various national medias portrayed the region's financial stability and work ethic negatively.[4]

According to Umeå University, a 2016 European Social Survey showed that Southern Europeans (especially Portuguese people) alongside Eastern Europeans, reported various measures of health to be in a worse state (including depression, mental health, headaches, and overall physical health) when compared with several Northwestern European peoples, such as Swedes, Irish, Finns, Swiss, and Norwegians.[5] In 2018, Eurostat data revealed how the group were leaving home as adults at the highest ages across Europe, with Maltese people (staying at home, on average, to over 32 years of age) being the highest in the EU.[6] In 2018, the UK government's Loneliness minister, Mims Davies, recommended that British families adopt the vacation customs of Southern European people, by including their grandparents on family holidays.[7]

Academic research

A 1998 study, published in the Atherosclerosis journal, studied postprandial dip in Southern Europeans (30 Greeks) compared with Northern Europeans (30 Britons and Irish people).[8] Research has been conducted comparing Southern Europeans' average height, human body weight, and body mass index against Northern Europeans and people living in Central Europe.[9]


There are significant diasporas of Southern Europeans, both within other regions of Europe, and to other continents. Some of these diasporic groups included, Southern European Americans and Southern European Canadians in North America, and Southern European Australians in Oceania. Southern Europeans have left a strong legacy In Latin America, both in the cultural and genetic sense.


Southern Europeans have emigrated to large economies in Northwestern Europe, such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom. This has been attributed to Freedom of movement for workers in the European Union, lack of employments opportunites in Mediterranean European countries, and specific events, such as the 2009 Euro crisis. Tens of thousands of the group settled in London in the 2010s.[10] From 2006 to 2011, 25,000 Southern Europeans moved to France, with 60 percent of the increase represented by Portuguese people alone.[11] A 2016 report on Southern European migration showed that, of Europe's larger economies, Germany and the UK remained most attractive to the group for resettlement and work, ahead of France.[11]

A 2019 study showed that young Southern European people have been particularly drawn to the job markets of London and Berlin since 2008, and that the attraction of the cities may encourage the group to accept poor employment conditions, rather than return home.[12]

North America

Early immigration

Despite bias against the group from Wilfrid Laurier's government,[13] Southern Europeans came to Canada in significant numbers between 1896 and 1905, under the charge of Minister of the Interior Clifford Sifton.[14] While policy initially prioritzed immigrants from Northwestern Europe to work on the Canadian Prairies,[15] many newcomers arrived from Mediterranean Europe between 1903 and 1914, working in Canada's industrial sectors, including railways, lumbering and mining.[16]

In the United States from 1900, the pan-ethnic group emigrated continuously for decades, until the advent of the 1965 Immigration Act.[17] Despite opposition to the Act in the US Congress (which outlined how Greek, Portuguese, and Spanish immigration numbers had already reduced naturally in 1924);[18] academics Gary Gerstle and John Mollenkopf have suggested that the passing of the legislation permanently ended further demographically significant Southern European immigration into the country.[19]

Canada also manifested a growing anti-immigration stance against the group around this time period.[20][21] In the US, Southern Europeans have been perceived to be in cultural opposition to the American establishment, which according to geographer Donald W. Meinig, created various societal tension with Old Stock Americans during the early 20th-century.[22] The group were often discrimated against, and judged inadequate against a criteria of whiteness invented by Northwestern European Americans.[23] Slurs, such as dago or wop, were directed at Southern Europeans of many different heritages in North America.[24][25]

Integration and success

Southern Europeans born in the US between 1956 and 1965 (by that point, often third or fourth generational) were indistinguishable in educational outcomes, including bachelor's degrees, with British Americans.[26]

From 1945 to 1973, during the post-war boom, the group became heavily represented in industrial towns such as Lansing, Michigan, where a General Motors plant attracted new labor and providing working-class occupations.[27] In Canada, political philosopher William Kymlicka has suggested that the group, along with French Canadians, had one of the lowest average incomes recorded in the 1986 Canadian census.[28] Southern Europeans, living in Toronto and Montreal , were demonstrated to be one the least socially mobile ethnic groups by a 1994 study.[29]


Southern Europeans tend to demonstrate family-centric behaviours in the United States when academically researched.[30] Studies suggest co-habitation with parents, and grandparents, endures longer for the grouping than other ethnic groups in the US.[31] Studies have revealed a similar pattern with the group in Canada.[32] Young Southern Europeans living in Vancouver were shown, in a 2003 study in Canadian Studies in Population, to leave home at one the latest stages, remaining home-stayers longer than Chinese Canadians, Indian Canadians or British Canadians.[33]

In Canada, residential behavioural patterns of the group were shown to be most typically represented by Portuguese Canadians, from a 2004 Housing Studies journal piece.[34] Other research has shown that Southern Europeans in Canada remain economically and culturally involved with their ancestral nations, despite globalization.[35]

Academic research

There has been wide study of the pan-ethnic group's behaviours as multi-generational immigrants to North America. By 1990, while little study regarding the nutritional intake of Southern European Americans had been conducted,[36] a 2003 study found that members of the group, particularly of Catholic backgrounds had lower risk of suicide than Northwestern European Canadians, including German Canadians or Scottish Canadians.[37] Using a genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphism, a 2006 PLOS Genetics research study showed that (of 7 out of 11 tested) Americans, who self-reported being solely of Southern European heritage, had a closer clustering of base pairs in comparison to those who self-reported a mixed Southern and Northern European ancestry. [38] A 2014 in-depth interviewing process of around 500 parents analyzed intergenerational conflict in Southern Europeans' family lives, compared with South Asian Canadians and other groupings.[39]

See also

  • Southern European Americans
  • Southern European Australians
  • Southern European Britons
  • Southern European Canadians


  1. Marco Sazzini; Paolo Abondio; Paolo Garagnani (2020), "Genomic history of the Italian population recapitulates key evolutionary dynamics of both Continental and Southern Europeans", BMC Biology, BioMed Central 
  2. "Southern Europeans turn sour over American grapes". Politico. February 1, 2019. 
  3. George Henderson; Thompson Olasiji (1995), "Southern Europeans", Migrants, Immigrants, and Slaves: Racial and Ethnic Groups in America, University Press of America, p. 155, ISBN 978-0819197382, "Southern European immigrants from Italy, Albania, Greece, Portugal, and Spain were barely tolerated by Americans whose European relatives lived in Western Europe. The peoples from the southern parts of Europe were thought by many westerns to be of inferior stock (Cuddy, 1982)." 
  4. Ed Vulliamy (17 August 2013). "We cherish the southern European lifestyle, yet scorn southern Europeans". The Guardian. 
  5. Anna Lawrence (31 October 2016). "Swedes are healthier and happier than southern Europeans". Umeå University. 
  6. Chris Harris (16 March 2018). "The long goodbye: how southern Europeans are leaving home even later than before". Euronews. 
  7. Christopher Hope (29 December 2018). "British families should copy southern Europeans and take grandparents on holiday, says new loneliness minister". The Daily Telegraph. 
  8. Zampelas A; Roche H; Knapper JM (1998), "Differences in Postprandial Lipaemic Response Between Northern and Southern Europeans", Atherosclerosis (Volume 139 ed.), Elsevier, p. 83-93, "Postprandial lipaemic responses to two test meals were investigated in 30 Northern (15 British and 15 Irish), and 30 Southern (Greeks from Crete) healthy male Europeans." 
  9. Christopher B. Ruff (2018). "Central Europe". Skeletal Variation and Adaptation in Europeans: Upper Paleolithic to the Twentieth Century. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 335. ISBN 978-1118627969. "In general, average Central European stature, body mass, and BMI are intermediate between shorter and lighter southern Europeans and taller and heavier northern Europeans (Fig. 11.6)." 
  10. "Southern Europeans flock to UK for jobs". EURACTIV. September 23, 2016. "Britain, and especially London, has become a popular place for tens of thousands of southern Europeans in search of work as the governments of Spain, Portugal and Italy continue to impose austerity measures." 
  11. 11.0 11.1 Tatiana Eremenko; Nora El Qadim; Elsa Steichen (2016), "Southern Europeans in France: Invisible Migrants?", South-North Migration of EU Citizens in Times of Crisis, Springer Publishing, p. 123-148, ISBN 978-3319397610, "The current economic crisis does not appear to have changed this evolution and France has not emerged as an important destination for Southern European migrants as have Germany and the UK ... Although their numbers have increased and represent a growing proportion of recent flows to France (Brutel 2014), they remain low compared to numbers in Germany and the UK ... As mentioned earlier, we observe an increase of the three groups of Southern Europeans since the crisis: in the period 2006–2011, the number of recent migrants from Southern Europe living in France increased from around 53,000 to 78,000, with a particularly strong increase for Portugal (+15,000) (Table 8.3)." 
  12. Iraklis Dimitriadis; Giovanna Fullin; Maricia Fischer-Souan (2019), "Great Expectations? Young Southern Europeans Emigrating in Times of Crisis", Mondi Migranti, FrancoAngeli, p. 127-151, "In addition, it sheds light on the perceptions that young Italians and Spaniards have of the Berlin and London labour markets. The findings suggest that positive images of the Berlin and London economies, together with a lack of hope for sustainable economic recovery in the country of origin impact migration decisions, and may also encourage migrants who face challenges in the labour market of destination countries to accept poor employment conditions, rather than leave the new society." 
  13. Pamela Hickman; Jean Smith Cavalluzzo (2012). Righting Canada's Wrongs: Italian Canadian Internment in the Second World War. Lorimer. p. 44. ISBN 978-1459400955. "Clifford Sifton was minister of the interior from 1896 to 1905 under Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier. Sifton's job was to settle the Prairies and bring in labour. He focused his campaigns on Britian and northern Europe but not southern Europeans." 
  14. John Douglas Belshaw (2016). "The Clifford Sifton Years, 1896–1905". Canadian History: Post Confederation. BCcampus Open Education. "Sifton’s preferences as regards immigrant groups were explicitly in favour of northern Europeans over southern Europeans, Whites over non-Whites, and people with experience farming in prairie-like conditions." 
  15. David Scott Fitzgerald; David Cook-Martín (2014). Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas. Harvard University Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-0674729049. "Sifton excluded souther Italy from recruitment because he considered southern Europeans inadequate to the challenges of life on the prairie ... By the early 1900s, Canadian eugenicists increasingly adopted the U.S. movement's proposals to restrict eastern and southern Europeans." 
  16. David Goutor (2008). Guarding the Gates: The Canadian Labour Movement and Immigration, 1872-1934. UBC Press. ISBN 978-0774813655. "From 1903 to 1914, more than one-quarter of all immigrants came from continental Europe, with a pronounced increase in the migration of Ukrainians, Poles, Italians and other eastern and southern Europeans ... a growing proportion of eastern and southern Europeans were brought in to do the rough, unskilled work in Canada's flourishing railway, mining, lumbering, and manufacturing sectors." 
  17. Irmo Marini (2009). "Counseling White Americans". The Professional Counselor's Desk Reference. Springer Publishing. p. 249. ISBN 978-0826171818. "Southern and Eastern European Americans. After 1900, and prior to the 1965 Immigration Act, most immigrants to the United States came from southern and eastern European countries." 
  18. "Volume 65, Part 6". Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the United States Congress. US Congress. April 8, 1924. p. 5899. "Proponents of this measure maintain there are too many southern Europeans in America. Yet for the two years of the present bill's existence the net result between immigration to and emigration from this country indicates there are 4,619 less Greeks here, 5,089 less Portuguese, 13,343 less Spaniards, while the Italians shows a slight increase of 2,207, and Yugoslavians have remained about stationary." 
  19. Gary Gerstle; John Mollenkopf (2001). Introduction to Multicultural Counseling for Helping Professionals. Russell Sage Foundation. ISBN 978-0871543073. "lack of protest by eastern and southern European-Americans to Congress's racially discriminatory decision in 1924 to all but end further immigration from their countries of origin" 
  20. "The Immigration Story of Robert Sapienza (Italian immigrant) - The New Canadian Magazine". Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. 2003. "Xenophonic feelings in Canada also resulted in immigration policies that limited the number of Southern Europeans in Canada and. Consequently, the Italians." 
  21. Donald Avery (1972). "Canadian Immigration Policy and the “Foreign” Navvy,1896-1914". Canadian Historical Association. "This bias against southern Europeans had been evident in the immigration priorities established during Clifford Sifton's term as Minister of the Interior." 
  22. Donald W. Meinig (2000). "Reshaping the Nation". The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, Volume 3: Transcontinental America, 1850-1915. Yale University Press. p. 291. ISBN 978-0300082906. "Michael Novak, speaking especially for Eastern and Southern Europeans in America, attacked the "wealthy, suave, and powerful" Protestant establishment that "sets the tone" and governs "the instruments of education and public life"." 
  23. Katherine Jentleson (November 25, 2012). "The Misrecognition of Migrant Mother". Duke University. "The work of Anglo Americans, including only token pieces done by Native Americans, African Americans, Southern European Americans and others who didn’t pass a certain benchmark of whiteness." 
  24. Philip Q. Yang (2000). "Racism". Ethnic Studies: Issues and Approaches. State University of New York Press. p. 146. ISBN 978-0791444801. "mick for Irish Americans; wop for Italian or other southern European Americans; and honky for white Americans." 
  25. Camera Graeca: Photographs, Narratives, Materialities (Publications of the Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College London). Routledge. 2015. p. 217. ISBN 978-1472424761. "The word 'dago', short for the Spanish first name 'Diego', had acquired a derogatory meaning by mid-nineteenth century and was chiefly used for Italians and Southern Europeans in the US, UK and Australia." 
  26. Dominic J. Pulera (2006). "A Nation of 100 Million". Sharing the Dream: White Males in a Multicultural America. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 30. ISBN 978-0826418296. "The Census Bureau found that 55.9% of white men born between 1956 and 1965 had attended college and 25.5% of them had completed bachelor's degrees. However, the percentages had virtually converged for two groups in this cohort: men of solely British ancestry (66.3% and 31.8%, respectively) and Southern and Eastern European men (66.4% and 33.8%, respectively). Interestingly, these trends were reflected in the data for women too. While the Southern and Eastern European Americans began to prosper in America, African Americans continued to suffer from discrimination and diminished life chances" 
  27. Betsy E. Evans; Rika Ito; Jamila Jones; Dennis R. Preston (2004), Change on top of Change: Social and Regional Accommodation to the Northern Cities Chain Shift, Meertens Institute, p. 65,, "Local respondents, who remember southern European-Americans coming to the area at the same time and for the same purpose (there is a large General Motors plant in Lansing)" 
  28. Will Kymlicka (2001). "Home leaving trajectories in Canada: exploring cultural and gendered dimensions". Politics in the Vernacular: Nationalism, Multiculturalism, and Citizenship. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199240982. "For example, 1986 Census statistics show that Arab-Canadians have a higher per-capita income than British-Canadians, and that South Asian-Canadians have a higher average income than either South European-Canadians or French-Canadians." 
  29. Bali Ram; Y. Edward Shin (1999). "Internal Migration of Immigrants". Immigrant Canada: Demographic, Economic, and Social Challenges. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0802081117. "Earlier studies (Ram and Shin 1995; Ram, Shin, and Pouliot 1994) showed that southern Europeans living in Toronto and Montreal are the least mobile group, regardless of the period of immigration or the duration of residence in Canada." 
  30. Graciela L. Orozco (2014). "European Americans in Counceling". Introduction to Multicultural Counseling for Helping Professionals. Routledge. p. 117. ISBN 978-0415540223. "The family is of great importantance to many southern European Americans, so much so that the needs of the individual may be considered secondary." 
  31. Paola Giuliano (2009). "Differences in Preferences for Home Ownership". Labor in the Era of Globalization. Cambridge University Press. p. 226. ISBN 978-0521195416. "Southern Europeans in the United States and at home would have to wait longer to leave their parental house before buying their own home" 
  32. Barbara A. Mitchell (2004). "Making the Move: Cultural and Parental Influences on Canadian Young Adults' Homeleaving Decisions". Journal of Comparative Family Studies (Volume 35 ed.). University of Toronto Press. "In particular, young adults from Greek, Italian, Balkan, Portuguese and many Asian origins remain at home the longest ... South European-Canadians, a more mixed pattern exists: for female young adults, forming a marital union is the most important reason" 
  33. Andrew V Wister; Barbara A. Mitchell; Ellen M. Gee (2003). "Home leaving trajectories in Canada: exploring cultural and gendered dimensions". Canadian Studies in Population (Volume 30 ed.). The University of Alberta. "In this exploratory study, we profile variations in home leaving, home returning, and home staying behaviour among four ethnocultural groups in Canada - British, Chinese, Indian, and South European ... third of the South European-Canadians are home stayers – 35.6% and 36.3%,. respectively, for male and female young adults." 
  34. Carlos Teixeira (2004). "Residential Experiences and the Culture of Suburbanization: A Case Study of Portuguese Homebuyers in Mississauga". Housing Studies (Volume 22 ed.). Taylor & Francis. "In this respect, the Portuguese are typical of Southern Europeans in Canada. These immigrants' wish to move to a larger, modern house in the suburbs supports previous research in Canada in this area" 
  35. Luis LM Aguiar (2007). "The New "In-Between" Peoples". Transnational Identities and Practices in Canada. UBC Press. p. 214. ISBN 978-0774812849. "Rather, the transnational practices of southern-European Canadians may increase as the forces of globalization, geographical effacements, and extended identities circulate within Canada" 
  36. Pamela Goyan Kittler; Kathryn P. Sucher (1989). Food and Culture in America: A Nutrition Handbook. Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 183. ISBN 978-0442283223. "Nutritional Status Nutritional Intake Little research has been conducted on the nutritional intake of southern European Americans." 
  37. Frank Trovato (2003), Migration and Survival: The Mortality Experience of Immigrants in Canada, University of Alberta, p. 35-36, "Trovato and Jarvis (1986) observed that foreigners in Canada from Southern European origins and a Catholic religious culture (such as Italians and Portuguese) tend to share low odds of suicide, whereas immigrants from predominantly Protestant and Anglo-Saxon countries share above average risks (i.e., American, German, Scottish)." 
  38. Jonathan Pritchard, ed. (2006), European Population Substructure: Clustering of Northern and Southern Populations, PLOS Genetics,, "In addition, a large fraction of southern European Americans (7 of 11) without other reported European heritage had majority “southern” contribution. Those Americans with self-identified mixed “southern” and “northern” heritage showed a substantial but less impressive “southern” population component (8 of 23 with majority “southern”)." 
  39. Barbara Ann Mitchell; Yvonne Lai (2014), "Intergenerational conflict in ethnically diverse ageing families", Families, Relationships and Societies (Volume 3 ed.), Policy Press, p. 79-96, "Data are drawn from in-depth interviews with 490 parents (mean age of 58) with at least one young adult child aged 18 to 35 living in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia belonging to one of four ethnic groups: British, Chinese, South Asian or Southern European Canadians."