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Why Should We Care About Uncertainty in Migration Flows?

Reasons and Challenges from an Economics Perspective

Migration processes, despite being highly uncertain, volatile and complex, very often demand concrete, rapid and targeted policy responses. Yet, addressing the uncertainty that is an inherent feature of migration trends is still a challenge. How can progress be achieved in this area?
Why Should We Care About Uncertainty in Migration Flows?

Key Messages

  • Migration policies should be evidence-informed and always consider uncertainty. They need to be flexible, the operational solutions need to be easily scalable and proactive thinking needs to be championed.
  • Countries should strengthen efforts to apply internationally established concepts, definitions and methodologies on international migration in their statistics and data collection, use and dissemination efforts.
  • More coordination among data providers inside domestic governmental offices and between countries is needed to ensure a steady flow of data between institutions, facilitating data linkage and data harmonisation.
  • Incentive models in academic publishing need to be re-evaluated, especially in economics, if the aim is to produce research that is useful for policy and is societally relevant.



  • Barker, E.R. & Bijak, J. (2021). Uncertainty in Migration Scenarios. QuantMig Project Deliverable D9.2. Southampton: University of Southampton.
  • Di Iasio, V. & Wahba, J. (2021). Brexit uncertainty and UK migration: Should I go? QuantMig Project Deliverable D3.2. Southampton: University of Southampton.
  • UN Statistical Commission (2021). Report on the fifty-second session (1-3 and 5 March 2021). UN Economic and Social Council. E/2021/24-E/CN.3/2021/30. New York: United Nations. Available at:
  • Vono de Vilhena, D. & Bijak, J. (2021). Uncertainty in Future Migration Flows: Where Does It Come From? Population & Policy Compact 29, Berlin: Max Planck Society/Population Europe.



EU and QuantMig Logos

This work has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 870299. This document reflects the authors’ view and the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.


Read more about the QuantMig project here and follow the project on Twitter.

Additional Information

Authors of Original Article


Barker, E., Bijak, J., Di Iasio, V. and Wahba, J. (2022). Why Should We Care About Uncertainty in Migration Flows? Reasons and Challenges from an Economics Perspective. Population & Policy Compact 35, Berlin: Max Planck Society/Population Europe.