Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY defines the concept of global migration as a permanent move to a new location. Global migration is at its most active point in modern history. It’s rapidly changing the demographic, social and economic landscape of the planet. For this reason, it’s important to understand global migration flows. Data on migration flows are essential for understanding global migration patterns and how different factors and policies in countries of origin and destination may be related to flows. Currently, only 45 countries report migration flow data to the United Nations (UN DESA, 2015). Migration flows “refer to the number of migrants entering or leaving a given country during a given period of time, usually one calendar year” (UN SD, 2017). However, countries use different concepts, definitions and data collection methodologies to compile statistics on migration flows. Definitions of who counts as an international migrant vary over time in the same country and across countries. That’s why it’s important to understand how many people actually leave countries of origin and actually enter countries of destination.
Although the number may not be accurate, global estimates based on census data suggest that 0.5 percent – or approximately 37 million people – left their native country to live in another country between 2010 and 2015 (Abel, 2016). Some countries report data on annual flows to the UN Statistics Division (UN SD), who has a mandate to collect migration statistics, including on migration flows, from countries through the Demographic Yearbook data collection system. Some countries report data to OECD or the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat) as well. OECD data on permanent migration inflows allow to distinguish between different types of migration flows including work, family and humanitarian migration (OECD, 2017). However, the number of countries reporting flow data is limited and the data are often not harmonized.
According to Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, NY, absence of systemic flow data has led researchers to develop their own estimates of global migration flows based on 5-year intervals (see Abel and Sander, 2014; Raymer et al., 2013). These estimates are based on UN statistics, some of which are available from the DEMIG Country-to-Country database (C2C) of the University of Oxford, which contains bilateral migration flows data for at least 34 countries. The database also provides gender breakdowns were available and more historical depth.
Another tool worth mentioning is DTM.
The International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), a system to track and monitoring population displacement and mobility, collects migration flows data through flow monitoring component in more than 30 countries. DTM flow monitoring assesses areas of high mobility, often at key entry, exit, and transit locations. Flow monitoring activities aim to derive quantitative estimates of the flow of individuals through specific locations and to collect information about the profiles, intentions, and needs of the people moving. Numbers of people moving within areas of free circulation such as the European Union or the Southern Common Market (Mercosur in Latin America) are also indicated separately in the OECD’s International Migration Database.
The system off tracking data, however, is still very fragmented and inefficient. The tracking system is dependent of collecting data from administrative sources, but such sources usually record events (e.g. issuance/renewal/withdrawal of a residence permit) and may not necessarily reflect actual migration movements (e.g. a residence permit is not renewed but the person stays in the country, or the permit is renewed but the person leaves the country).
Jon Purizhansky from Buffalo, New York notices that without a systemic global technological solution, tracking and monitoring global relocation will become more and more difficult. Creating a unified blockchain technology system will help government agencies in both, destination and origination countries, employers, and third-party organizations by tracking and storing not only migrants’ identification documents, but also their migration history (renewals, visas, approvals, denials, supporting documents, etc….). It will not only generate transparency and efficiency for all participants of the global relocation ecosystem, but it will also assist researchers to understand and quantify global relocation data.