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‘Searching for a better life’: Using Google data to predict bilateral migration flows in real-time

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This project uses geo-referenced online search data to make predictive estimates for bilateral migration flows. Using data from Google Trends, it analyses how the searches of a particular migration-related keyword have changed over the years in a given country of origin and how this has and likely will affect future migration movements in between two countries. All data is anonymised and in case of low data coverage location information are not released to protect individual’s data privacy rights.


The results of this innovative approach showed that using online search data from Google Trends provides strong additional predictive power for bilateral migration flows. Moreover, by comparing the results with survey data, the study demonstrates that it partly reflects genuine intentions of migrants for moving to another country as well. Overall, this innovative data project underlines the opportunities that derive from Google Trend data for gaining real-time predictions of migration flows ahead of official statistics and improves the performance of conventional models. It can be replicated for any other context of bilateral migration flows as well, especially where the penetration of internet and Google services are high.


(Image: © IOM)

Last modified
26 de mayo de 2021