Inadequate statistics on global migration are a serious obstacle to crafting policies that benefit sending countries, receiving countries and migrants themselves, yet better data could be gathered easily and at low cost by adding a few questions to each national census, according to a new report by a blue-ribbon commission organized by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
While we have detailed accounting systems for tracking the movement of goods and capital across borders, we lack effective means for gathering data on the international movement of people. This data gap hampers our ability to craft effective migration policies, and to cooperate with other countries to effectively manage migration. This report starts with the simple recommendation that every national census include a small number of questions relevant to migration, such as “In what country were you born?” It also recommends other ways to improve migration data, such as compiling countries' existing labor force surveys and exploiting administrative data sources, such as those collected by immigration agencies.
Op-ed: “Migration Statistics: Our Biggest Weak Spot”