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Better data on migration could yield $35 billion – report

19 March 20180 comments

Better use of data on migration could help turn human mobility into an asset worth tens of billions of dollars, the recent World Economic Forum in Davos has heard.

A report released at the forum shows how investing in migration data can bring huge economic, social and humanitarian benefits.

It provides detailed calculations of these benefits, across a range of policy areas, and for both developed and developing countries.

The report also provides guidance to countries interested in realising these benefits and suggests ways in which they could develop their own strategies to improve data on migration.

For example, many migrants to the European Union have skills that do not match their jobs. Using data to reduce over-qualification would increase the income of migrants in the EU by six billion euros, the report calculates.

Titled ‘More than Numbers: How migration data can deliver real-life benefits’, the report was prepared by the UN Migration Agency’s (IOM) Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), working with the McKinsey Centre for Government.

“In this report, we have taken a fresh perspective on migration data and statistics, one that could benefit the entire development world,” said co-author Solveigh Hieronimus, a partner at McKinsey & Company.

“By taking a value based approach to migration data we can ensure that investment is squarely focused on impact. Ultimately, if governments want to see better outcomes they need to prioritise more relevant data, not just more data,” Ms Hieronomus said.

Better data could also save labour migrants $US6 billion in recruitment fees for jobs abroad or increase the money that migrants send home by $US 20 billion worldwide, the forum heard.

It also heard clever use of data could double the success rate of identifying human trafficking cases, speed up asylum applications or promote humane, voluntary returns.

IOM Director General William Lacy Swing launched the report at Davos.

“Too often, data are seen as the abstract business of experts operating in backrooms. Yet data are essential to produce real-life results such as protecting migrants in vulnerable situations, fill labour market shortages and improve integration, manage asylum procedures, ensure the humane return of migrants ordered to leave or increase remittance flows,” he said.

“We are at a crucial moment. UN member states have started negotiations leading towards the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

“The time to invest in better migration data is now. Just looking at the examples we have illustrated in the report would see a boost in $US35 billion towards the opportunities and challenges that migration presents,” Mr Swing said.




Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist