Migration and Asylum Data for Policy-making in the European Union: The problem with numbers

Ann Singleton

The migration, humanitarian and policy crises in the European Union in 2015 and early 2016 have highlighted, among many other problems, a pressing need for reliable, timely and comparable statistical data on migration, asylum, and arrivals at national borders. In this fast-moving policy field, data production and the timeliness of dissemination have seen some improvements but the sources of data remain largely unchanged at national level. The policy demand for the most recently available data points to the need for a better understanding of their strengths and limitations.
This paper examines the reasons for some of the main problems with the data for policy and for public discussion. It makes a set of recommendations, calling for a complete and updated inventory of data sources and for an evaluation of the quality of data used for policy-making.

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