Dec 16, 2021
The aim of this study was to develop a tool to 'nowcast' migrant stocks by using real-time data from the Facebook Marketing Application Programming Interface (API) and official migration data from EU member states and states in the United States. The tool produces real-time nowcasts which can serve as an early-warning system for decision-makers to anticipate 'shock events' and rapid migration trends, and make evidence-based policy decisions.
The aim of this study was to develop a methodological tool to 'nowcast' migrant stocks by using real-time data from the Facebook Marketing Application Programming Interface (API) and official migration data from EU member states and states in the United States. To meet this aim, RAND researchers collected real-time data that could provide estimates of migrant stocks in the countries of interest from the Facebook Marketing API, along with migrant-stocks data from official sources from 2010 onwards, and developed a Bayesian model capable of combining the Facebook and official migration data to nowcast stocks of migrants in EU member states and US states. The model developed in this study is capable of producing near real-time nowcasts for each source of official statistics, which can serve as an early-warning system to anticipate 'shock events' and rapid migration trends that would otherwise be captured too late or not at all by official migration data sources. This tool therefore enables decision-makers to make informed, evidence-based policy decisions in the rapidly changing social policy sphere of international migration. The study also provides a useful example of how to combine 'big data' with traditional data to improve measurement and estimation which can be applied to other social and demographic phenomena. Suggestions for future work include continued data collection activities to extend the temporal overlap between Facebook data and official migration statistics, nowcasting migrant stocks for demographic subgroups, and exploring alternative specifications for the Bayesian model to improve the accuracy of the nowcasts.
Traditional and new data to estimate international migrant stocks
Data sources for international migrant stock estimates
Methodology to nowcast international migration
Migrant stock nowcasting results
Migration data annual time series
Facebook Marketing API data monthly time series
Detailed description of all official data sources collected
Lists of corridor clusters