The project Integrated Modelling of European Migration (IMEM), funded by New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE Migration), brought together academics and researchers with expertise in migration modelling (Southampton Statistical Sciences Research Institute and the ESRC Centre for Population Change), expert knowledge (University of Oslo) and data on migration (Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute). The project started in November 2009 and finished in April 2012.


  1. The aim was to provide a general framework for modelling migration flows amongst countries in the world in the context of inconsistent, inadequate and missing data. Focus was on international migration flows amongst 31 countries in the European Union and European Free Trade Association, for 2002-2008 period.
  2. The model developed by the IMEM team combines the official and publicly available migration flow data that are reported to Eurostat, with the qualitative and subjective judgements of the experts on migration data collection. It also incorporates auxiliary covariate information on the associations between origins and destinations of migration (e.g., language, borders and distance) to estimate missing patterns.
  3. The model permits disaggregation of the estimated flows by age and sex.
  4. The definition of the estimated flows complies with the definition of a long-term migrant recommended by the United Nations (1998).

Uses and Benefits

The advantages in having a consistent and reliable set of migration flows are numerous:

  • Estimates of migration flows are needed so that governments have the means to improve their planning policies directed at supplying particular social services or at influencing levels of migration. This is important because migration is currently (and increasingly) the major factor contributing to population change.
  • Our understanding of how or why populations change requires reliable information about migrants. Without this, the ability to predict, control or understand that change is limited.
  • Countries will soon be required to provide harmonised migration flow statistics to Eurostat as part of a new regulation passed by the European Parliament. Recognising the many obstacles with existing data, Article 9 of the Regulation states that 'As part of the statistics process, scientifically based and well documented statistical estimation methods may be used.' We believe that our framework helps countries achieve this aim and provides measures of accuracy required for understanding the estimated parameters and flows.

Project Personnel

Principal Investigator:


Team Members:

This online tool has been developed with support and funding from the JISC DataPool Project at the University of Southampton, in particular Martin Chivers (iSolutions) and Michael Whitton (University Library).