Disaggregating migration data by age is essential for profiling migrant populations. For child migrants, data disaggregated by age, gender and information on whether children are accompanied by a parent, family member, guardian, sponsor, or not, are particularly important to determine potential levels of vulnerability and protection needs during transit and on arrival. Child migrants are at risk of abuse, trafficking and exploitation, especially if they travel alone and through irregular migration pathways. There are several types of data sources that disaggregate migrant stocks and flows by age, although none can offer precise numbers or a full global picture.
The United Nations (UN) estimates that among the 244 million migrants world-wide, 158 million are labour migrants who have left their home countries in search for work. Labour migrants have a much higher labour force participation rate (72.7%) than the general public (63.9%) (ILO and African Union, 2017). Crossing national borders to work is one of the key motivations behind international migration, whether driven by economic inequalities, seeking employment, or both. The additional impact of economic, political and environmental crises and shifting demographics, with ageing populations in some parts of the world and a “youth bulge” in others, contribute to rising labour migration (Ozel et al., 2017).
Forced migration or displacement
In studying forced or involuntary migration—sometimes referred to as forced or involuntary displacement—a distinction is often made between conflict-induced and disaster-induced displacement. Displacement induced by conflict is typically referred to as caused by humans, whereas natural causes typically underlay displacement caused by disasters. The definitions of these concepts are useful, but the lines between them may be blurred in practice because conflicts may arise due to disputes over natural resources and human activity may trigger natural disasters such as landslides. Countries faced with forced displacement—induced by humans or nature—collect data on displaced populations. Such data are typically collected through a combination of population censuses, household surveys, border counts, administrative records and beneficiary registers. At the international level, data on forced migration are collected and/or compiled by various intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
There are two main forms of return migration: voluntary return and forced return (see below). Data on forced return are usually collected by national and international statistical offices, border protection and immigration law enforcement agencies. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) collects data on assisted voluntary return and reintegration programmes that it implements worldwide by IOM.
Numbers of internationally mobile students are increasing and destinations diversifying. “Internationally mobile students” typically hold a non-resident visa status (sometimes called a student’s visa) to pursue a tertiary degree (or higher) in the destination country. These individuals are also called “degree-mobile students”, to emphasize the fact that they would be granted a foreign degree, and to distinguish them from “credit-mobile students” on short exchange or study-abroad trips.