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Sci Data. 2019 Jun 17;6(1):82. doi: 10.1038/s41597-019-0089-3.

Bilateral international migration flow estimates for 200 countries.

Abel GJ1,2, Cohen JE3,4,5.

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Asian Demographic Research Institute, Shanghai University, Shanghai, China.
Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, VID/OEAW, WU) International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria.
Laboratory of Populations, The Rockefeller University and Columbia University, New York, NY, 10065, USA.
Earth Institute and Department of Statistics, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10027, USA.
Department of Statistics, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, 60637, USA.


Data on stocks and flows of international migration are necessary to understand migrant patterns and trends and to monitor and evaluate migration-relevant international development agendas. Many countries do not publish data on bilateral migration flows. At least six methods have been proposed recently to estimate bilateral migration flows between all origin-destination country pairs based on migrant stock data published by the World Bank and United Nations. We apply each of these methods to the latest available stock data to provide six estimates of five-year bilateral migration flows between 1990 and 2015. To assess the resulting estimates, we correlate estimates of six migration measures from each method with equivalent reported data where possible. Such systematic efforts at validation have largely been neglected thus far. We show that the correlation between the reported data and the estimates varies widely among different migration measures, over space, and over time. We find that the two methods using a closed demographic accounting approach perform consistently better than the four other estimation approaches.

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