More than Numbers: How migration data can deliver real-life benefits


More than Numbers: How migration data can deliver real-life benefits
Final version for World Economic Forumin Davos on 24 January 2018
International Organization for Migration (IOM) and McKinsey & Company
2018 :: 124 pages
Migration is a complex global challenge. Around 258 million people are currently estimated to be residing outside their country of birth – a number that has almost tripled in the past 50 years. This has policy implications across a myriad of dimensions ranging from border management to labour market participation and integration.

Decision makers absolutely need one thing to devise appropriate policies: reliable information. Relevant, high-quality data is critical for designing, implementing and evaluating policies that can generate substantial economic, social and humanitarian benefits for countries and migrants alike.

Despite widespread consensus on the importance of data to manage migration effectively, the current availability of relevant and reliable data is still very limited. Even when data is available, it is often not used to its full potential (including new data which is being produced in abundance from digital devices). Unfortunately, the current debate focuses far too much on how to get more and better data – a technical debate for experts in the engine room of politics. This report aims to shift this debate from theory into practice. Decision makers need to be convinced of the value that migration data can deliver.

This report is intended to support decision makers in capturing concrete economic, social and humanitarian benefits in line with targets they choose to prioritize – by leveraging the data that matters.


Press Release
Investing in Better Migration Data Could be Worth Over USD 35 Billion
World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland – Could better use of data help turn human mobility into an asset worth tens of billions of dollars?

That’s the finding of a study by the UN Migration Agency’s (IOM) Global Migration Data Analysis Centre (GMDAC), working with the McKinsey Centre for Government (MCG), being released today at Davos’ World Economic Forum.

In the new report, entitled “More than Numbers: How migration data can deliver real-life benefits”, IOM and MCG illustrate how investing in better data can help manage migration more effectively and illustrates clear examples of this.

The International Organization for Migration´s Director General William Lacy Swing explained in launching the report: “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.”

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

The report illuminates how investing in migration data can bring huge economic, social and humanitarian benefits. It provides detailed calculations of these benefits, across a range of different policy areas, and for both developed and developing countries. Looking ahead, the report 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 EUR 6 billion, the report calculates…