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A Review of Methods for Estimating Emigration

Working Paper Number POP-WP101
Eric B. Jensen

Abstract

International migration statistics measure the movement of people across national borders and often comprise estimates of immigration (migration into a country) and emigration (migration out of a country). Emigration is one of the most difficult components of population change to estimate because the emigrant population is no longer resident in the country and, therefore, cannot be measured directly using censuses or surveys. Researchers and national statistical agencies have used various data, including population registers and surveys, and techniques, including residual methods, data attrition methods, indirect estimation, multiplicity sampling methods, and statistical modeling to estimate emigration. However, the literature describing how these data and techniques are used to estimate emigration is relatively sparse. In addition, foreign language translations are often unavailable, limiting the access of this information to an international audience. One of the projects of the Suitland Working Group is to bring together the published literature on estimating emigration from different languages into one resource document. In this report, we summarize the literature on the methods to estimate emigration, review the strengths and limitations of each method, and provide references for original documents in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

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