Background

The 2006 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development and the subsequent creation of the Global Forum on Migration and Development have created an unprecedented demand for accurate, up-to-date and policy relevant migration data. In response, the United Nations Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has developed the United Nations Global Migration Database (UNGMD), a comprehensive collection of empirical data on the number (“stock”) of international migrants by country of birth and citizenship, sex and age as enumerated by population censuses, population registers, nationally representative surveys and other official statistical sources from more than 200 countries and territories in the world.

Policy objectives

The database addresses key policy questions, which have remained unanswered so far, including: what are the main countries of origin of international migrants? What is the sex and age distribution of international migrants? What are changes in the international migrant stock over time for particular countries of origin or age groups? In addition, the database allows for the quantification and monitoring of vulnerable groups in need of special protection, such migrant women, children and stateless persons.

Data sources

The data contained in the database were derived from numerous sources, including the Demographic Yearbook, produced by United Nations Statistics Division, tabulations collected by the Population Division as well as official publications available from resource centers, libraries and the internet.

Data considerations

Because the database is based on different sources, discrepancies between tabulations are inevitable, in particular between those pertaining to the same country of enumeration and the same date. Researchers and analysts are therefore advised to use the database with caution. It is recommended to analyze the various sources available from the database before drawing any firm conclusions on the level, trends and characteristics of international migration. To ensure confidentiality, countries of citizenship or birth with fewer than 100 international migrants are not shown separately. In addition, values between 1 and 9 have been replaced with an asterisk.

Acknowledgements

Financial support from UNDP and UNICEF allowed the Population Division to expedite the development of the database. The Population Division acknowledges the collaboration of the Statistics Division of the United Nations, the World Bank and the University of Sussex in contributing data for the database.

Feedback

We are currently testing the database. During this phase, access to the database will be restricted to key partners of the Population Division within and outside the United Nations system. If you want to publish data obtained from the database, please use the following citation “United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008). United Nations Global Migration Database (UNGMD).” Our aim is to make this database as comprehensive as possible. Tabulations that are not yet included in the database may be sent to migrationp@un.org so that they can be uploaded.