Handbook for Improving the Production and Use of Migration Data for Development



Why This Guide?

The Global Migration Group (GMG) has produced this publication to provide guidance to producers and users of international migration data. This project has been conducted within the framework of the World Bank ́s KNOMAD initiative. Its publication follows the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the development of an accompa - nying indicator framework. The handbook is intended to support Member States in the collection, tabulation, analysis, dissemination, and use of migration data, and is thus expected to contribute directly to monitoring the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By assisting countries in collecting accurate, up-to-date, and relevant data on the stocks, flows, and contributions of migrants and migration to development, it is hoped that the guide will facilitate the integration of migration into national development planning and strategies. This publication includes contributions from 16 members of GMG. As a tool for capacity development at the country level, the guide shall form part of a comprehensive strategy to strengthen the production and use of migration data for development, particularly in developing countries.

The Challenge: Improving Migration Data

For many years, GMG agencies have undertaken efforts to improve the availability, quality, and comparability of migration data by publishing guidelines for their com - pilation, and collecting and disseminating migration statistics. (Examples include the 1998 United Nations Recommendations on International Migration Statistics, and the 2007 International Organization for Migration (IOM) guide, “Sharing Data: Where to Start.”) This guide is an effort to facilitate the implementation of these and other relevant standards and guidelines for the collection of migration statistics, rather than producing new standards. By taking primarily a user perspective, the handbook seeks to provide guidance and assistance in operationalizing existing statistical definitions.

The paucity of international migration data has long been recognized. The 2006 High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, with its emphasis on leveraging the benefits of international migration for development and address - ing its negative consequences, highlighted the absence of globally comparable data on the impact of international migration on countries of origin, transit, and destination. The Declaration of the 2013 High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development emphasized “the need for reliable statistical data on international migration, including when possible on the contributions of migrants to development in both origin and destination countries.” Further, the Declaration noted that migration data “could facilitate the design of evidence-based policy and decision making in all relevant aspects of sustainable development.” Other resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council have also called for improvements in the production of accurate, relevant, and timely international migration statistics, disaggregated by gender, age, and other relevant characteristics. The Global Forum on Migration and Development, since it first met in 2007, has also repeatedly emphasized the need for accurate, policy-relevant, and timely data on migration and its impacts on economic, social, and sustainable development in countries of origin, destination, and transit. Indeed, the lack of evidence on the development impacts of migration has hindered efforts, especially in developing countries, to integrate migration into national development plans and strategies, and track the contribution of migration to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed development goals.

SDGs: Integrating Migration into the United Nations Development Agenda

The inclusion of migration in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has far-reaching implications for the collection of migration data. Improving migration statistics, once the exclusive domain of statisticians, has now become a priority for policy makers and planners at the national, regional, and global levels. The SDGs include one migration-specific target (10.7), which calls on countries to “facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through implementation of well-planned migration policies.” In addition, there are several migration-related targets, including target 3c (retention of health workers in developing countries), target 4b (provision of scholarships for study abroad), targets 5.2, 8.7, and 16.2 (combating human trafficking), target 8.8 (respecting labor standards for migrant workers), target 10c (lowering the costs of transmitting remittances), and target 17.18 (disaggregating data by migratory status). A third group of targets are those that, although they do not refer to migration per se, nevertheless have an impact on migration or migrants, not least due to the target to disaggregate data by migratory status. Examples include targets that relate to poverty reduction, education, health, and peaceful societies.

The commitment of the 2030 Agenda to “leave no one behind” has significant implications for data collection: policy makers and statisticians will no longer be able to “hide behind averages.” The ambition of the 2030 Agenda is that through disaggregation by migratory status, policy makers, civil society, and the general public are able to monitor the outcomes of the SDGs and targets for migrants and non-migrants, thus allowing for assessment of the relative success of national development policies. By April 2016, the United Nations Statistical Commission was expected to adopt the indicator framework for the SDGs, as developed by the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Following the endorsement of this indicator framework by the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, there may be a need to revise or update this handbook.

Nontraditional Data Sources: The Data Revolution

This handbook is especially timely given the growing calls for a “development data revolution,” which have accompanied the formulation of the SDGs. Many argue that it will not be possible to meet the demand for data that is required to measure progress toward the new development goals, targets, and indicators unless the quality, availability, and timeliness of data improve markedly. In 2013, the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 development agenda first called for a “development data revolution.” Subsequently, in 2014, the United Nations Secretary General ́s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a “Data Revolution for Sustainable Development” published the report “A World That Counts: Mobilizing the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.” The report calls for more diverse, integrated, timely, and trustworthy information on development. The report also laments that entire groups of people are not being counted, and that important aspects of people ́s lives are not measured. The report recommends a “significant increase in funds to support this data revolution, following an assessment of capacity development needs.”

Aims of This Guide

One of the key objectives identified in the multi-annual workplan of the GMG is to provide guidance and support to Member States in collecting and analyzing data on migration and development. The aim of this publication is to provide practical guidance to policy makers and practitioners on the measurement of international migration and its impact on development, and to present good practices and lessons learned from recent initiatives undertaken by GMG members. Over recent years, GMG entities have undertaken a broad range of initiatives to help countries around the world to improve data on migration, remittances, and development. The aim of this handbook is to make this information more accessible by producing a synthesis of the work that has been conducted by various GMG entities.

The handbook summarizes existing standards and definitions for the collection and dissemination of migration statistics. It provides an overview of the main sources for migration statistics, and includes an inventory of the availability of data. It showcases the main international data sets on international migrants and international migration, and indicates how they can be used for policy making.
The guide provides examples of good practices for the collection of migration data and their use in policy making. It assesses the progress that has been made in implementing global standards and guidelines on migration statistics, and identifies the remaining gaps and challenges. The guide concludes by summarizing key recommendations that countries may wish to follow when producing and using migration data for development.

Scope and Outline of the Guide

Although it is unlikely that one single handbook can cover all the possible data needs at the national, regional, and global levels, it is hoped that this guide will nevertheless address the minimum data requirements for a wide range of policy areas.

The guide is divided into four parts. The first part provides an overview of the main criteria for measuring international migration, as well as the main sources for migration data, including traditional and nontraditional sources. The second part focuses on the importance of data in relation to some of the reasons for migration. There are examples of some elements of often complex influences on migratory movements and related decision-making processes. Here, data sources are presented from the perspective of work (labor migration), study (migration for educational purposes), and asylum (the arrival of refugees and asylum-seekers). The third part discusses migration data from the perspective of some key development outcomes, including remittances, labor market, trade, intellectual property, health, education, and the environment. The fourth part provides guidance on the collection and use of migration data for the purpose of improving the enjoyment of human rights for migrants, by focusing on the human rights of migrants, migrant women, migrant girls, and victims of human trafficking.

In total, the four parts contain 17 concise chapters, using a common framework. Each chapter provides a brief overview of the key policy issues. This is followed by a section describing the main data that are needed to analyze these policies. The next section comprises an overview of existing sources and standards for data collection. The following section discusses data gaps and challenges. Then, each chapter provides some tools and good practices to address these gaps. Finally, each chapter concludes with a set of recommendations and key messages.

Using This Guide

It is the hope of the authors that this guide will be used and tested in the field as part of capacity development activities. Relevant sections of this handbook could be used as background reading for participants in regional and national work - shops. Reference lists for each chapter provide guidance to further reading, and annex A includes online links to examples of good practice, training materials and handbooks, and further guidance on international standards. The handbook may inspire the development of specific online or offline training modules, tools, and exercises. United Nations entities that have not yet contributed to the handbook may wish to add a section. There may thus be a need to update, revise, or extend the handbook in due course.

David M. Malone
Chair of the Global Migration Group (GMG)

Dilip Ratha
Head of KNOMAD