Handbook of Research Methods in Migration
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Handbook of Research Methods in Migration

Edited by Carlos Vargas-Silva

Covering both qualitative and quantitative topics, the expert contributors in this Handbook explore fundamental issues of scientific logic, methodology and methods, through to practical applications of different techniques and approaches in migration research.
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Chapter 11: Migration and its Measurement: Towards a More Robust Map of Bilateral Flows

Ronald Skeldon


Ronald Skeldon The issue of data is central to the study of migration. In many ways, it is also its Achilles heel: weaknesses in the data have been identified in so many serious studies of migration, with calls for improvement in the quantity and quality of the information available for the study of the movement of population. However, one group of experts has drawn attention to ‘a century of ignored recommendations’ (Center for Global Development, 2009, p. 3). At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we seem to be uttering the very same pleas for better data on migration that we were making at the end of the nineteenth century, with little sign of progress across the intervening years. As robust data provide the evidence on which policy on migration is based, that same group of experts goes on to state categorically ‘the nonexistence or inaccessibility of detailed, comparable, disaggregated data on migrant stocks and flows is the greatest obstacle to the formulation of evidence-based policies to maximize the benefits of migration for economic development around the world’ (Center for Global Development, 2009, p. 5). The reasons why little apparent progress has been achieved towards improving the quantity and quality of migration data are complex and the result not just of any lack of political will but also of the nature of migration itself. This chapter endorses the latest robust recommendations to improve migration data from the panel of experts but shifts the focus to review why the nature of...

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