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International Migration Data: Advances and Challenges

Feb 13

The Department of Statistical Sciences "Paolo Fortunati" will host the international conference "International migration data: Advances and challenges," a one-day event aimed at reviewing and discussing current initiatives in the field of access, usability, and standards of data production on international migration and migrant lives.

The analysis of international migration has recently become socially and politically important in Europe. However, such increasing relevance has not been followed by decisive advancements in data collection, which is still severely flawed in many ways. The most commonly used informational basis on human mobility, i.e. censuses, does not allow to give account of some crucial facets of the phenomenon, such as undocumented migration and—due to systematical underreporting—emigration. Survey data hardly provides timely information and typically relies on samples of observational units that are independent from one another, which cannot be used to establish causal relationships between individual characteristics, life events, and mobility behaviours. In addition, the data that does exist is often biased by the so-called methodological nationalism, or the historical tendency in mainstream social sciences to view the nation-state as a natural container and unit of analysis. Despite the transnational nature of migration, such a tendency has produced immigrant-centric approaches to migration studies that simplistically conceive migrants as one-way travellers aiming at settling down upon arrival in the destination country.

In order to improve our understanding of migration and to design effective policy-making, we need to address its misconception through a more comprehensive approach to migration data collection and analysis. The conference International migration data: Advances and challenges will bring together leading scholars in the field of quantitative analysis of international migration to review and discuss the state of the art of migration data production and usability in light of the current conceptual and methodological issues. The conference will allow to compare national experiences, discuss technical issues—e.g. sampling of vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations—and share the best practices in migration data production. Special attention will be paid to the role of multi-sited surveys for collecting data in both origin and destination countries, and to concepts and methods to account for transnational linkages in migration statistics.

The event fits into the on-going collaborative and multidisciplinary research project “Migrations and migrants in Italy” supported by Fondazione Alsos.

Event information
Department of Statistical Sciences "Paolo Fortunati"
University of Bologna
Bologna, Italy