August 1, 2021

Investing in Better Migration Data Could be Worth Over USD 35 Billion

3 min read

World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland – Could better use of data help turn human mobility into an asset worth tens of billions of dollars?

dataThat’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.”

Added Solveigh Hieronimus, Partner at McKinsey & Company:  “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 focussed on impact. Ultimately, if governments want to see better outcomes they need to prioritise more relevant data, not just more data.”

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.

Better data can also save labour migrants USD 6 billion in recruitment fees for jobs abroad or increase the money that migrants send home by USD 20 billion worldwide.

But it is not only about money.

Smart use of data can double the success rate of identifying human trafficking cases, speed up asylum applications or promote humane, voluntary returns.

“We are at a crucial moment,” said IOM Director-General Swing. UN member states have started negotiations leading towards the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.

Consultations leading up to the negotiations in 2018 have highlighted the importance of improving the evidence on migration. UN countries have also committed to several migration-related targets linked to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed in 2015. Without better data it will be hard to assess progress towards these common targets. “The time to invest in better migration data is now”, says Swing.  “Just looking at the examples we have illustrated in the report would see a boost in USD 35 billion towards the opportunities and challenges that migration presents.”

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