Migration is one of the main processes that affect the size and distribution of the population. From a demographic point of view, migration is also harder to estimate than fertility and mortality rates.

Traditionally, the measurement of migration relies on a variety of sources, such as population census and administrative data, with each of them having its own strengths and limitations. The limitations are mainly related to coverage, measurement, timeliness, and data quality. Nowadays, countries face challenges and need more detailed and timely information about population movements. At the same time, many governments have recognized the important economic and social impact of migration as it is also included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets for 2030.

Mobile phone data (MPD) is a big data source that could be used to measure human mobility. Mobile positioning is often considered to be a novel and exciting source of information for investigating the spatial dynamics of human society. There are expectations that MPD could fill data gaps and would ensure that no one is left behind. However, new data sources cannot substitute traditional ones. While traditional data sources have a number of drawbacks; without a benchmark, it is difficult to assess the validity of new sources and to build trust in new approaches.

This handbook on the use of MPD for migration statistics aims to provide practical guidance on how to collect statistics on internal and international migration using big data in compliance with the new UN recommendation on migration statistics. It reviews MPD as an alternative non-traditional source for migration statistics.


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