Uncertainty over net-migration statistics explained

Aug 31, 2012

The true statistics for net migration could be 35,000 higher or lower than official estimates, Oxford University's Migration Observatory has said after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the provisional estimate for net migration in 2011 today (30 August).

The central estimate for net migration in 2011 was 216,000 – a fall of 36,000 from 2010's estimate of 252,000. But for the first time, ONS also released the margins for error associated with its net-migration statistics with the result that net migration could be 35,000 higher or lower than estimated.

The ONS notes that the 2011 in the estimate of net-migration is 'not statistically significant' – which means that it cannot be said for certain that net-migration has actually declined, despite the fall in the central estimate.

This is because the migration are primarily based on a sample survey – the International Passenger Survey (IPS) – which, as is the case with all surveys, produces estimates that are subject to margins of error.

Dr Martin Ruhs, Director of the Migration at the University of Oxford, said: 'There is a constant desire among policy makers in all parties, the press and other in having 'hard' facts and specific numbers about migration, but the reality is that sometimes these are simply not available.

"The uncertainty around the official migration estimates means that the figures need to be used and interpreted with great care."

He added: "The in the UK's migration estimates also means that it is very difficult to assess how well the government is progressing toward its target of reducing net-migration to the 'tens of thousands', or to evaluate the effects of specific policy changes."

"In simple terms, the Government could miss the "tens of thousands" target by many tens of thousands and still appear to have hit it – conversely the Government could hit, or even exceed its target and still appear to have missed it."

Explore further: New study finds university health schools' use of holistic admissions has positive impact

More information: A comment piece by the Migration Observatory explores the importance and profound implications of this uncertainty for the UK's migration debate.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The net migration 'bounce'

Mar 05, 2012

New analysis by Oxford University’s Migration Observatory shows that any short term cut to net-migration brought about by reductions in immigration will be partially reversed in the long term because ...

Puffins 'scout out' best migration route

Jul 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Individual Atlantic puffins 'scout out' their own migration routes rather than relying on genetic ‘programming’ or learning routes from a parent, a new study suggests.

Migration an overlooked health policy issue: New series

May 24, 2011

If internal and international migrants comprised a nation, it would be the third most populous country in the world, just after China and India. Thus, there can be little doubt that population mobility is among the leading ...

Recommended for you

Are the world's religions ready for ET?

5 hours ago

In 1930, Albert Einstein was asked for his opinion about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. "Other beings, perhaps, but not men," he answered. Then he was asked whether science and religion ...

Putting children first, when media sets its own rules

12 hours ago

In an age when a significant number of parents won't let their child walk down the street to post a letter because of "stranger danger", it's ironic that many pay little attention while media organisations ...

User comments : 0