Global Migration Data Portal - Frequently asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Portal's main objective?

The Portal aims to serve the migration community by making sense of migration data. The two main objectives of the Portal are to make international migration data more accessible and visible, and easier to understand. It is a first attempt to pull together key global data sources on migration in one place which are currently scattered across agencies and hidden in comprehensive reports. The Portal reviews available migration data in various fields of migration, explains concepts and definitions and describes key strengths and weaknesses of available data sources. Infographics, videos, blogs, data visualizations, thematic pages and country and regional data snapshots make the Portal a useful and easy-to-navigate tool for anyone interested in migration.

What can I find on the Portal?

Currently, users can find 98 migration data indicators from 25 different international data sources broken down by country, region and sub-region. Most data are publicly available and provided by numerous international agencies. Migration data on the Portal can be accessed for all UN countries and complemented by contextual information, including demographic and employment data. Key additional resources, including written reports and alternative data sources, are made available for all countries, regions and sub-regions where available. 

The Portal also features thematic pages reviewing the available data for 27 areas of migration, a collection of more than 200 handbooks and guidance reports on how to measure migration and collect data in various fields, 40 blogs discussing recent data and innovations authored by leading experts in the field of migration and 18 migration governance country snapshots. The Portal also includes video interviews with over 20 leading data experts from around the world.

The Portal also includes a dedicated section on migration data governance. These pages track how data can support UN member states in achieving the migration-relevant Sustainable Development Goals and in implementing the forthcoming Global Compact for Migration.  

How does the Portal select migration indicators for the world map? 

Inclusion of migration data is based on availability, relevance, coverage and validity.  

Availability:

Migration is a cross-cutting and complex issue. Many important areas of migration lack sufficient numerical data. Data sources are selected if they contain country-level information in numerical format.

Relevance:

Data that is displayed must be directly relevant for migration issues.

Coverage:

The Portal aspires to be a truly global platform. Currently, only data that is available for more than one region is featured. Data that are available for only one region (e.g. Eurostat) have so far been excluded in the world map, but are discussed and listed in the thematic pages.

Validity:

The majority of data on the Portal has been compiled and released publicly by recognized UN or other international agencies (e.g. OECD). These statistics are therefore based on official, national sources that are reported through existing mechanisms. These data have gone through the respective institution’s review and approval. A few indicators are based on data provided by established research institutes, think tanks or survey firms. All results were previously published in recognized fora, are frequently used and enjoy credibility among the expert and international community.

How do you reference data?

Transparency is important. For any data that appear on the Portal, direct links to the raw data, the data collection methodology and a review of data in the respective thematic area is provided. For each dataset, the source and the year is stated at the top of the map and a disclaimer flagging the key limitation of each indicator is provided. All sources cited in the thematic pages have direct links to the source.

Before including new data, IOM liaises with the provider of the raw data to coordinate how the data should best be presented.  

Can we trust the data?

It is important to understand where data comes from. There are many decisions that go into collecting data. As such, no data are perfect and any dataset has limitations. This is also true for international migration data. First, many international datasets are a combination of national-level data compiled at the global level following a specific aggregation and/or estimation logic. Second, migration involves mobile populations that often represent a small share of a country’s population. Anything that is ‘mobile’ and ‘statistically rare’ is difficult to measure. 

That said, the Portal features the most trustworthy data that are available at the international level. All datasets have been approved by official UN agencies, established research institutes or think tanks, and are commonly used in the field of migration.

How are new data included?

The current selection of global migration indicators is based on the most comprehensive and well-established migration datasets. IOM continuously searches for additional data to include in the Portal if it meets the selection criteria discussed above. IOM communicates directly with data providers before adding new datasets to the Portal.

While the Portal provides a comprehensive baseline of what is available globally, it is designed to grow continuously in order to best serve the migration community. If you have data, including at national and regional levels, that should be included, please send an email with suggestions indicating the source, methodology and use of the proposed dataset. Guidelines and criteria for including and visualizing national and regional statistics are currently being developed (see also section 8 below). 

How often is the data updated?

Currently, data presented in the world map and materials available in the tools section are updated every three months. New thematic pages, blogs and videos are released bi-monthly while new migration governance country snapshots are added on an ongoing basis. 

Will the Portal feature national data?

At first instance, the Portal includes international data sources. International sources are often based on national sources that have been aggregated at the international level based on official mandates of international organizations. Our various reviews of migration data along key themes already include references to national data sources. 

The Portal includes references to written national Migration Profiles for each country where a report has been validated by national inter-ministerial groups. Dedicated pages on the Migration Governance Indicators (MGI) will also be made available after consultation with national authorities.

In its continuous effort to serve the migration community, IOM is currently exploring the possibility of featuring migration data from National Statistical Offices on the Portal’s country profile pages. Many countries have information which is not captured in international datasets; as such, national data can be a rich, complimentary resource to provide an accurate picture of migration worldwide. In all cases, national-level data will be added in coordination with National Statistical Offices and only with their approval that the data can be displayed. Differences between national and international aggregates or estimates will be highlighted and explained in the built-in disclaimer to each dataset on the world map.

Who is running the Global Migration Data Portal?

The Portal is a tool built for the migration community, by the migration community. It is run by a core team at IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre. However, many other institutions contribute to the Portal and are in close coordination with the core team. This includes UN agencies that have shared data and reviewed thematic pages in their respective areas. Other IOM departments, country and regional offices also contribute to the Portal. The private sector has also been involved: for example, the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a landscape analysis which has informed the design of the Portal, and Gallup Inc. has provided a small subset of their data for the world map. We are hoping to grow the community as we move ahead.

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