Use of new data sources for measuring international migration
Migration and other forms of cross-border mobility are issues of high policy importance. Demands for statistics in these areas have further increased in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2018 Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The statistical community continues to be challenged to capture international migration and cross-border mobility in a way that would meet the growing needs of users.
Measurement of migration and cross-border mobility relies on a variety of sources, such as population and housing censuses, household surveys and administrative records, with each of them having their own strengths and limitations. Integration of data from different sources is often seen as a way to enhance the richness of data and reduce coverage or accuracy problems. Yet, even this would often not capture all dimensions of migration and cross-border mobility.
New non-conventional data sources, such as data gathered from the use of mobile telephones, credit cards and social networks — generally known as big and social media data — could be useful for producing migration statistics when used in combination with conventional sources. Notwithstanding the challenges of accessibility, accuracy and access to these new sources, examples are emerging that highlight their potential.
In 2020 the Bureau of the Conference of European Statisticians (CES) set up a task force to review existing experience and plans for using new data sources for measuring international migration in national statistical offices and outside official statistics; analyse the material collected; and compile the examples into a reference tool.
This publication presents the results of the work of the task force, including various national experiences with big data and new data sources collected through two surveys among countries participating in the CES.
The publication was endorsed by the 70th plenary session of the Conference of European Statisticians in 2022.