Understanding migrant populations

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Co-financed by the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals

4. Understanding migrant populations

4.1 Understanding population profiles

It can be difficult to gather accurate, up to date data on migration.  Measuring and predicting migration can be complex, particularly as data is often only available at the UK level.  However, it is important to be able to understand the profile of migrant communities in your area, so that you can plan effectively.  There are a number of information and data sources that you can use.

Migration is the most difficult component of population change to estimate, as there is no comprehensive system that registers migration in the UK.  Estimates of migration are therefore based on survey data and the best proxy data that exist.
For example, the main sources of migration data used by National Records of Scotland (NRS) include:

  • The National Health Service Central Register (NHSCR) is used to calculate moves between NHS Board areas within the UK.  It is also used to distribute estimates of international migration to NHS Board areas in Scotland.
  • Community Health Index (CHI) is used to estimate migration at local authority  area and below.
  • International Passenger Survey (IPS) provides information on moves into and out of Scotland with an origin or destination of outside the UK.

When looking at data sources, you should be aware that some data sources measure flows i.e. the number of people migrating from one place to another over a given period, and others measure stock i.e. the number of people resident in an area at a given point in time.

Find out more...

There are a number of other data sources that are used to inform migration statistics.  You can find out more information about these data sources and their limitations, in this report produced by Scottish Government and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.  The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford also has useful information on data sources.