Conceptualisation and Analysis of Migration Uncertainty: Insights from Macroeconomics
Migration is increasing in prominence, both economically and politically, with migration volumes steadily increasing since at least the 1990s. Knowing the exact size and type of these flows is important for understanding the societal, labour market changes and wider effects of migration flows. Still, the existing data on international migration has many gaps and inaccuracies due to different definitions and collection methods which introduces uncertainty into analysis. In the context of prediction, the uncertainty is amplified by the many unknowns surrounding the future developments of migration and its drivers, many aspects of which are aleatory– unknowable and irreducible. Inaccurate estimates and predictions of migratory flows, particularly to countries for which migration is a sizeable political issue, can result in the implementation of policies with unintended consequences. A number of attempts have been made to improve forecasting methods of migration, however, there are events or shocks which could not be foreseen such as the so-called European migration crisis of 2015.
The aim of this paper, building on a conceptual typology of migration uncertainty in Bijak and Czaika, is therefore to provide a deeper understanding of the uncertainty in the context of the tools used for forward-looking studies of migration, and to propose methods for analysing the uncertainty of complex migration processes across the different time horizons, with an explicit acknowledgement of their micro-foundations. As the types of migration uncertainty are discussed elsewhere, the focus of this report is on the analytical possibilities offered by approaches stemming from contemporary macroeconomics