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According to a new paper, there are many more migrants than we think, but a third of them have returned home.



In 2018, the question of immigration was one of our most politically charged ones, with it being raised in the USGermany, Turkey, or down here.

The issue will roll on in 2019, so ahead of the renewed battle, researchers from the University of Washington discovered that there are 75% more immigrants than previously thought. They also estimated that a third of them are going back home.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are based on an alternate method of counting immigrants, and promote a clearer idea of migration flows—and suggest the kind of policies needed to handle it.


Part A: Immigrants leaving home

The researchers analysed migrants flows in five-year blocks since 1990, drawing data pooled by the UN as well as other sources. Throughout that period, the proportion of people on the move has stayed pretty much the same: between 1.13% and 1.29% of the global population.

The data also suggests that the traditional methods of data pooling have vastly undercounted the number of immigrants. While commonly accepted estimates put global migration at up to 46 million every five years between 1990 and 2015, that number is between 67 million to 87 million, depending on the time period, the new study says. Per Quartz: “…for example, the number of Mexican immigrants settling in the US is more than double than common estimates.”

In the table below, the new data is represented in the “new method”, with the established way of counting represented in the “common method” field.

The data is also measured in the thousands.




Part B: Returning migrants

According to the study, the higher number of incoming immigrants are offset by those who are going back. The below chart represents the largest immigration flows between 2010-2015:



According to the authors, their data is as good as the UN estimates they are based on.




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