Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Search Challenge (2/17/16): Where are people moving to and where are they moving from?

Where is everybody moving to? 

It's a big political year in the US, with the presidential race heating up, preparing for the election this coming November.  

And, as usual, the candidates are debating this and that, mostly without much data to support their various assertions. You might hear a number or two, but are these numbers real?  Or do they just make them up?  

Our SearchResearch blog is all about data and getting to the bottom of things--we're here to help find data and answers to complex questions!  

One of the big debating points is whether or not there's a mass immigration into the US across the border with Mexico.  (People never seem to worry about the much bigger, much less defended border with Canada... but I digress.)  

And, more broadly, there is a human tide of people fleeing Syria and many part of the Middle East.  

The big Challenge for this week is to get some kind of data handle on all of these mass movements of people.  Where do they start?  Where are they going?  And perhaps most importantly, how do you know?  

Our Challenge this week is straightforward to express, but not so straightforward to solve: 

1.  During the past year, what have been the large movements of people across the world?  (We're interested here in people who are moving from one place to another for economic, political, or safety reasons--not people going home temporarily for the New Year's or Thanksgiving Day celebrations.)  

In particular, can you: 

A. Find data sources that tell us how many people moved from location X to location Y in 2015? 
B. Is there a good way to visualize that data?  (Giant tables of numbers aren't all that descriptive, there must be a better way. Can you find a good one?)  
C. How do you know that these numbers are right?  And to what extent can you believe them?  Why?  

Obviously, there's a whole world full of people moving.  If you want to focus on just one area, the most important for the US is the movement of people from Mexico into the US (and from the US into Mexico!).  If you want to understand the Middle East, look into movements of people from Syria (where are they going?), and Turkey (where are they coming from?).  Or, if you're from India, what outflows and inflows of people are moving from India?  

This time, we're really interested in HOW you found your data sources, and a bit about WHY you believe this particular source(s).  During the political silly season, you'll hear all kinds of crazy numbers--which ones are reasonable estimates, and which are just beyond belief?? 

Search on!  


  1. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) publishes monthly counts of new asylum seekers for each origin-destination country pair based on information collected by the relevant agencies in the destination countries:

    Lucify build a visualisation of the European refugee crisis. They aimed to convey the magnitude of the crisis in a way that is intuitive, memorable and engaging:

    Infographic (in Dutch):

    1. Hi Hans -- Did you just KNOW about the UNHCR, or did you do a search to find that resource?

    2. Hello Dan, I live in the the Netherlands, and refugees is an hot item here. So I heard about the UNHCR in the last week's. I did a quick Google search on "vluchtelingenstroom 2015" and found the hits I mentioned.

    3. A large number of infographics and data visualizations: The Refugee Crisis through the eyes of Data Visualization:

  2. 1/2
    went to a couple sites that have been of use in previous searches — world bank, cia, wolfram|alpha and proceeded from there…
    one thing seemed clear: events outpace data collection > factual accuracy is hard to come by > data is subject to manufacture/agenda manipulation > generalities outpace specifics >
    perceived data outweighs ground truth in a media driven environment, for the masses.
    The World Factbook Profile of Global Migration -
    world bank data
    African study example
    bits - X files/flies - Jan 21, 2016
    2015 estaminets
    "Net migration rate
    This entry includes the figure for the difference between the number of persons entering and leaving a country during the year per 1,000 persons (based on midyear population). An excess of persons entering the country is referred to as net immigration (e.g., 3.56 migrants/1,000 population); an excess of persons leaving the country as net emigration (e.g., -9.26 migrants/1,000 population). The net migration rate indicates the contribution of migration to the overall level of population change. The net migration rate does not distinguish between economic migrants, refugees, and other types of migrants nor does it distinguish between lawful migrants and undocumented migrants."

  3. Good day, Dr. Russell and everyone.

    [migration mexico to usa statistics]

    Mexican Immigrants in the United States

    More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S. And mentions "Pew Research Center "

    Demographics of Immigrants in the U.S., 2013

    Immigrant Population Hits Record 42.1 Million in Second Quarter of 2015

    [migracion Mexico Estados Unidos]
    [migracion Mexico Estados Unidos estadisticas]

    La migración a Estados Unidos
    Migración México

    2015, Yearbook Migration and remittances Excellent data here. Need to read with more detail

    [world bank migration] [world bank migration data]

  4. Replies
    1. excellent finds Ramón - found the International Organization for Migration & the CityLab/Atlantic pieces particularly interesting, including this info-bit…
      (btw: the CityLab graphic of immigrant/refugee flow does have the "look" of an invasion…)
      4 immigrants from Madagascar live in Mexico…
      seems to be good info
      CityLab - tie to the lake arc question

    2. Hello Remmij! Thanks

      The Canada water map is amazing, thanks for sharing. I also tried with Wolfram and World Bank. With the first, couldn't phrase it good to get results in second, just data no visualization. PEW links are very interesting too.

      Did you know any of the sources mentioned here before the Challenge? I only knew BBVA and World Bank but Pew ( visited this to learn more about them, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration are new.

    3. hi Ramón, I knew a few starting points, but since the info is so fluid and time relative, I think fresh searches would always be necessary…
      to find new & current data and displays like the ones you found… especially the IOfM site/interactive map graphic…
      like the maps - wonder about the lack of info regarding Russia & China, for example… I expect too much…
      MX/US in & out
      should show emigrants to Россия & 中国, but lacks data…
      art out of data; e.g., - Hydrological Map of Canada, Volumetric Model of the Great Lakes , Lake Ontario Rug, North Pole
      … wonder how Rosemary is faring in MX vis–à–vis CA?

    4. I agree with you. Fresh searches are better always also because we don't use so much many of the data source and we forgot about them and searching again brings them back.

      Today, listened the phrase "See one, do one, teach one" And that is totally SearchReSearch way. About previous Challenge I tried [mexico arc of lakes] (Yes, I know there are no arc of lakes here) and learned new concepts and things, for example:

      [Define Paleolimnology]

      From Wikipedia paleoecology and limnology also new.

      That make me remember "paleoclimate", Challenge

      Question, why paleo gives different results than searching "paleo" in search box of SearchResearch Blog? I tried changing url (in Mexico appears so changed to but that also didn't work.

  5. First stop: united nations population division migration finds lots of data for 2013 including this with a dozen charts:

    adding 2015 to the search finds a revision of the stuff above for 2013 which links to which links to which is a lovely wallchart

    I trust the United Nations totally for its long history of accurate results

  6. World Migration (International Organization for Migration)
    Map that shows interactive map with in/out data from each country.

    This map found by Mr Ramon seems peculiar. Says Canada took 7,000,000 migrants in 2013 representing 20% of our population,

    Canada immigration and Citizenship shows immigration (250,000) to be far far less than this and under 1% of the population.


  7. loop wandering/searching, westerly, south to north…
    slash&burn _ Madagascar_carbon isotope
    Les Grottes d'Anjohibe
    as Dan points out, various languages, various content…
    wiki varient

    western U.S. drought
    again, an interesting link to the Arc Lakes/Bouclier Canadien/stalagmite layers/drying of American West… not just on the ground, but in the air…
    “One of the big things that was happening at this time worldwide was the collapse of the last vestiges of this big ice sheet in Canada,” McGee says. “An ice sheet is thought to have important effects on where the jet stream goes. By having this ice sheet here, it made it so the jet stream was more likely to bring storms into the American West, and when it collapsed, the region became more like it is today.”

  8. After doing SearchResearch Challenge Time zone eccentricities reading more about topic and today BBC shares this article in Spanish ¿Qué pasaría si el mundo entero tuviera la misma hora? What do you think?

    1. "Por ejemplo, hacia 1870 Estados Unidos tenía 75 zonas horarias diferentes , cuenta Hanke."
      that would have been something…!
      I'd still be outta time…

      another time
      another place

  9. Wary of doing a straight Google search on this topic as it is so politically charged and everyone has an agenda.
    I concentrate on European figures as this is so much an issue at the moment. I also remember seeing a recent report by the BBC on migration in figures. The BBC are usually reliable and good at refs t0 sources.
    Search for -


    which takes me to the report I remember

    Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts

    Sources in this piece are Eurostat, IOM and Frontex which are all possible sources of statistics.
    I also know that the libraries of government organisations do summaries of current political issues for their members e.g House of Commons, European Parliament.

    The Eurostat site is quite confusing but a click on most popular tables gives an immigration link

    There are a few options here for looking at the data including visual representations. The data is only up to 2013 though (as it takes a long time to gather official stats!)
    Germany and the UK are receiving the most migrants in 2013.

    A search for Frontex takes me to this

    It includes data from each route and is more up todate for 2015.

  10. Had to do 2 seperate comments as it would not accept the full search on one!

    A search for IOM finds the International Organisation for migration – never heard of them, so a check on the about us, says they are an intergovernmental organisation of 162 states including UK and USA.

    This site has loads of info including an interactive map for individual countries.

    The data is from 2013 but it's fascinating.

    [european union library]
    takes me here to see if they have written a report on the topic

    They have a bibliography Demography and migration

    but no obvious summary.

    Search for [house of commons library] takes me here
    They have Research briefings – the search is a bit restricted but I find

    Statistics and analysis of asylum trends in the UK and other EU countries.

    Migration pressures in Europe

    This contains these figures
    “Forced migration levels are at record highs
    59.5 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced from their homes, as at the end of 2014
    13.9 million people are estimated to have been newly displaced due to conflict or persecution in 2014; 2.9 million of these became refugees (i.e. living outside their country of origin).
    • 42,500 people became refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced every day in 2014, on average.
    • 1 in every 122 humans is now a refugee, seeking asylum, or internally displaced.
    • 19.5 million people are refugees; half of them are children.
    • 53% of all refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.
    • 86% of refugees are in regions and countries considered economically less developed.
    • Turkey is hosting the largest number of refugees (1.59 million), followed by Pakistan (1.51 million), Lebanon (1.15 million), Iran (982,000), Ethiopia (659,500) and Jordan (654,100).
    • Asylum applications are at record high levels: nearly 1.7 million individuals applied for asylum or refugee status in 2014. The Russian Federation received the most new individual applications (274,700), followed by Germany (173,100), the United States of America (121,200), and Turkey (87,800).

    European states, particularly those along the EU’s external borders, are also feeling the effects of the above. Nearly 340,000 migrants have been detected unlawfully crossing EU borders in the first six months of 2015, compared against 280,000 in all of 2014. A record number of asylum requests (over 181,000) were made in the EU during the first quarter of 2015. Germany, Hungary and Italy received the majority of these claims. “

    Migration Statistics (UK)

    A 5 minute later sudden inspiration leads me to search for
    [research service for meps]
    which gets me here

    and eventually to here via Citizen's Enquiries

    and here

    Not a happy search and we are not even seeing the full impact of global warming yet.

    I'm going to stop there and enjoy the rest of my weekend.

  11. Query human migration. Cool chart, a bit dated but interesting.

  12. Anne and Deb here. We started doing a search for world migration which led us to an interesting report the 2015 World Migration Report. While it was interesting and filled with lots of information it was too overwhelming to get any information quickly. So narrowed search to just Mexican immigration so did a search which led us to an article in the Wall St. Journal entitled Mexican Immigration to US Reverses. While the article was interesting wanted to go to the source for the information. This led to an article from PEW research Center Hispanic Trends entitled More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S. We are familiar with this source and feel it is a reputable source. Will now go to the many references listed in the report.