4.2 Sources of migration data, information and knowledge

Evidence on different migration phenomena are derived from different sources. This often requires considerable resources, infrastructure and IT/knowledge as you will learn in the next activity:

Activity 4.2 Strengths and weaknesses of migration evidence sources

Timing: Allow 10 minutes

Imagine you’ve overheard a colleague say the following:

Described image

With the evidence pyramid in mind, and using Table 4.2 to help you, consider the following questions to assess whether this ‘knowledge’ is correct:

  1. What type of data would need to be collected and where would you source it from to determine whether this statement is correct?
  2. Who would use this information and for what purposes?
Table 4.2: Definition, typology and agencies working with evidence. This table itemises types of data, where you can find them, and the agencies which collect and use them.
Type of DataDefinitionSource Collected by Migration Evidence collectedUsed by
StatisticalNumerical and mostly describe quantities


Household surveys

Labour force surveys

Arrival and departure reports

Financial reports

Tools: Questionnaires (online and offline)

Government officials


International Agencies (eg IOM, UNHCR, ILO, OECD, World Bank)

Number of immigrants in country

Socio-economic characteristics

Emigration figures

Drivers of Migration

Impact of migration (especially remittances)

Policy Makers



Provides records on administrative output

Administrative Records on Entry Visas

Residence permits

Work permits

Tools: Data collection software systems

Government Officers

Migration Flows

Reasons for migration

Government Officials

Policy Makers



Non numerical and describes qualities and characteristics

Case Studies

Ethnographic Studies

Narrative Research

Tools: Interviews, focus group discussions and observations


Policy Makers

Lived experiences of migrants

Individuals Perceptions on various migration dynamics


Policy Makers


InnovativeEmerging sources of migration data

Big Data

IOM displacement tracking systems

Tools: Digital technologies

Policy Makers



Migration flows

Economic and social Impacts of migration

Policy Makers



All migration stakeholders can make use of open data sources from:

  • World Bank
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • UN Global Migration Database (UNDESA)
  • European Union Open Data Portal
  • National Bureaus of Statistics
  • Central Banks

4.1 Migration data, information and knowledge

4.3 Strengths and weaknesses of the different sources of migration evidence