IUSSP Webinar: 

Innovations in data infrastructure for the longitudinal study of international migration

Organized by: 
IUSSP Scientific Panel on Lifetime Migration 


Thursday 7 March 2024

14:00-15:30 Universal Time  




Data collection practices in migration studies have traditionally been limited to observations before migration in origin countries or after migration in destination countries. These practices have importantly shaped the conceptualization of migration – leading to enduring dichotomies between migrants and non-migrants or first- and second-generation migrants – and have often failed to recognize complex patterns of repeat migration and the diversity of migration experiences. Among others, this undermines our knowledge by constraining our capacity to ascertain and accurately measure migration rates (owing to multiple movements by migrants), uncover the intricacy and variety of migration trajectories (owing to intricate patterns of repeat, return, and circular mobility), and comprehend the selectivity of migration (owing to the recursive and reinforcing role of migration, even in earlier life stages). 

This webinar spotlights an emerging data infrastructure that offers a distinct chance to initiate a transformation in how we approach the study of migration, shifting from viewing it as the result of a one-off event to understanding it as a lifelong trajectory that spans across countries. 

The webinar addresses the imperative of investigating international migration trajectories alongside accomplished migration researchers who have played pivotal roles in gathering, assembling, or utilizing innovative migration datasets with longitudinal elements. These datasets encompass cross-national administrative records, digital traces, and survey data. The panelists share insights from their experiences in collecting and harnessing these pioneering datasets, offering recommendations for future data collection endeavours that support the examination of migration trajectories and the analysis of connections between various forms of population movement overtime.

Webinar structure


The webinar begins with a brief introduction by Sergi Vidal on the importance of longitudinal data to study international migrations, followed by a panel discussion with four speakers - Aliakbar Akbaritabar, Nikola Sander, Rosa Weber, Marcela Cerruti - facilitated by Claudia Brunori, and by a Q&A session with the audience.



Sergi Vidal
Centre for Demographic Studies & Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain


Why are longitudinal migration data needed? 




Claudia Brunori 
Centre for Demographic Studies & Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain




Aliakbar Akbaritabar
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Germany


Digital trace data: the Scholarly Migration Database (SMD)


The Scholarly Migration Database (SMD) provides detailed data about the mobility of scholars. Scientists, journalists and policy analysts who are interested in the movements of published researchers can access high-quality datasets and estimates via this website. The SMD fills a gap in high-resolution and longitudinal data on the migration of scholars worldwide by using the unprecedented opportunity to repurpose scientific publications’ metadata that spans more than 25 years.


Nikola Sander
Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), Germany


Panel surveys: the GERPS project


GERPS is a longitudinal survey that examines individual consequences of international migration from a life course perspective. The survey follows a nationally representative sample of recently emigrated and returned German citizens aged between 20 and 70 years. The panel covers the period Nov 2018 to Jan 2022, captured by five waves.


Rosa Weber 
Stockholm University, Sweden & French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED)


Linked cross-national register data: the Swedish-Finnish population register data

The linked Swedish-Finnish population register data were constructed by integrating records of Finnish immigrants in Sweden from population registers in both Sweden and Finland. The two data sets were linked by the identification of migrants based on their unique personal identity numbers (PIN). The linkage allows identifying migrants who move back and forth between Finland and Sweden. Migration is measured by registration and deregistration from the population registers in each country. The linked data allow us to assess the reliability of the records by verifying that migrants who deregister in Finland appear in the Swedish register and vice versa. Comparing the month of exit from Finland and entry in Sweden, we find that for 98% of all moves, the timing of the migration in each country's register differs by less than 2 months.


Marcela Cerrutti
Centro de Estudios de Población-CONICET, Argentina


Multi-sited surveys: the World Migration Survey (WMS)


The proposed World Migration Survey (WMS) aims to generate comparative information on the levels, characteristics and dynamics of migration, its determinants and impacts particularly across the global South, collecting information from both migrants and non-migrants to better understand migrant selectivity. Employing a uniform methodology in all countries, the WMS will serve many purposes, including providing retrospective and biographical information to reconstruct migration trajectories, generating information that traditional migration data sources fail to fully capture.