Estimating Bilateral Migration Flows to Match Known Net Migration Totals

Guy J. Abel , Asian Demographic Research Institute, Shanghai University
Peter W. F. Smith, University of Southampton

Bilateral migration flow data, summarising the number of people migrating between each origin and destination, provide a clearer understanding of migration patterns than summary measures such as net migration. However, bilateral migration flow data are commonly unavailable, not up to date or provide conflicting accounts of population change when compared to changes implied in demographic data. In this paper we introduce a conditional maximisation routine to update bilateral migration data to match known net migration totals. The routine can be applied in missing data situations to generate synthetic bilateral migration flows to match known net migration totals where reported bilateral data are unavailable or from surveys with limited coverage. We illustrate the application of the routine for state-to-state migration flows in the USA, providing estimates that are demographically consistent with changes in reported population totals, births and deaths over the period.

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 Presented in Session 35. Modelling Migration, Mobility and Positioning