International Migration Panel activities

October-November 2019 


Activities of the IUSSP Panel on International Migration: Strengthening the Knowledge Base for Policy during October and November included sessions at conferences in Asia and Africa and the Panel’s first training session on methods in migration analysis.  Following on the these heels will be implementation of roundtable discussions on priorities in international migration research and further trainings at conferences during the first half of the new year, a formal statement of the argument for a World Migration Survey as well as a working outline of a compendium on emerging methods of migration measurement, analysis an estimation.


Panel member Guy Abel, Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI), Shanghai University, conducted a Training Workshop on the Use of R in Demographic Analysis for 21 participants from universities and national statistical offices in the Asian region, with China, India, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and Japan well represented.  Establishing fluency in the advantages and use of R within demography, the last component of the workshop gave focus to specific dimensions of migration analysis and estimation including attention to the nuances of migration conceptualization and measurement within the context of population dynamics, description and estimation of age-specific patterns of migration and spatial structures, delivered so effectively by Sebastian Ruiz, Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics, UAB, Spain, estimation of migration flows from stock data at origin and destination, and empirically based representation of migration processes and systems.  Participants in the workshop engaged in applications of the methods of analysis through dedicated exercises.  Evaluating the workshop as ‘excellent,’ participants appreciated the professional, interactive and patience of the workshop instructors, and the effectiveness of the exercises in particular:  “…it's really when doing the exercises, because right then we do the practice directly what has been explained so that the results can be corrected immediately.”


Training Workshop on the Use of R in Demographic Analysis, ADRI, Shanghai University.


Following the workshop, the 2nd Asian Population Forum convened at Shanghai University in collaboration with the Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis. The IUSSP session, Priorities for International Migration Research in Asia, included five speakers who were invited to consider three cross-cutting themes:  identification of recent theory and research that has significantly advanced demographic knowledge concerning international migration in Asia, gaps in theory and research in Asia, and recommendations for strengthening the capacity for migration research and training in the region.  Speakers included Binod Khadria, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Doo-Sub Kim, Hanyang University, Jasmine Ha, Australia National University, Raya Muttarrak, University of East Anglia, who addressed labour migration, marriage migration, forced migration, environmental dimensions of migration, and data challenges to migration research in Asia, respectively.  Jalal Abbasi-Shavazi very effectively joined the panel presentations remotely and was effective in engaging questions and comments from the audience.  Discussion following the presentations gave focus to the critically intersections among population dynamics, internal migration and economic change in relationship to international migration both within the region and beyond.


IUSSP Council Member Jalal Abbasi, participating remotely in the session at the 2nd Asia Population Forum.


Panel Member Mariama Awumbila, University of Ghana, organized and chaired a session on “Perspectives and Prospects for a Global Migration Survey” at the 8th African Population Conference. Speakers included Diana Nabukalu (Uganda Bureau of Statistics), Joseph Yaro (Regional Institute for Population Studies, Accra, Ghana) and Ellen Percy Kraly (IUSSP Panel on International Migration). Speaking to a gathering of approximately 30 conference participants, Mariama framed the session by providing an overview of migration geographies in sub-Saharan Africa. Building on arguments of fellow Panel members, Marcela Cerrutti and Philippe Fargues, Ellen Percy Kraly advanced the importance of comparative migration data for advancing demographic knowledge in the 21st century, while also anticipating challenges to the implementation of a world migration survey.  Mariama addressed a range of topics within a migration survey that would specifically relevant for the African context.  Joseph Yaro followed with a profound analysis of both deep historical dimensions of migration in Africa as well as the resonance among processes of internal migration, urbanization, intra-regional and extra-regional migration within and among African countries. He underscored the significance of uneven patterns of development in regions of Africa, distinctive forms of migration and hence the need and challenges to the harmonization of data.  Diana Nabukalu provided exquisite specificity on data sources and surveys pertaining to migrants and refugees in Uganda and critical reflection on the challenges and opportunities for further survey research on migration.  The significance of strong cooperation and collaboration among institutions and organizations in data collection initiatives cannot be underestimated.  Mariama was successful in encouraging a highly participatory session among attendees.  Questions and comments from the floor addressed the intensive and volatile nature of migration within Africa and also the degree to which issues of migration may be politically charged, the value of taking stock of existing sources of migration data within the region in terms of population coverage and migration definitions, the importance of temporary movements and migrations, the lack of research on migration among African professionals, etc.


Joseph Yaro, Mariama Awumbila and Diana Nabukalu at the 8th African Population Conference.


Philippe Fargues and Marcela Cerrutti have developed a proposal for a World Migration Survey that will be shared during several upcoming professional convenings including the 2nd International Forum on Migration Statistics (IFMS) to be held in Cairo, 19-21 January 2020.  The Population Association of America has also approved a member initiated meeting, ”Priorities in International Migration Research and Statistics: Prospects for a World Migration Survey,” which will be held 3:30-5:00pm, Wednesday, 22 April, in Washington, D.C. prior to the opening of the annual PAA meeting.  


We are also very pleased to report that Guy Abel will implement a second training workshop on migration estimation within the scope of the IFMS Conference in Cairo.  Please note that information will soon follow on the specific details of each of these sessions for dialogue on international migration research and training.


As ever, we encourage the perspectives of IUSSP members concerning the activities of the Panel.  Please contact Ellen Percy Kraly at