QuantMig: The use of migration scenarios in future characterisations: A systematic review and typology

M. Boissonneault, Jarl Mooyaart, Petra W. de Jong, H. A. G. de Valk


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BackgroundMigration plays an increasingly important role in shaping the demographic profiles of developed countries and receives ample attention in society at large as well as among policymakers. To understand how migration flows might evolve in the future, the QuantMig project set the goal of producing migration scenarios to support European migration policy. To do so, we need to make clear with what purpose scenarios are developed, how they are developed, and on which flows they focus. Other questions concern whether they are designed to describe the most likely future or a possible future, whether they are extrapolating trends observed in the past (assuming no fundamental changes in policies), or whether they are designed to describe desirable futures (migration as a panacea for ageing societies) or undesirable futures (massive inflow of immigration from developing countries). To produce the best possible migration scenarios, it is essential to get an overview of the literature. Migration scenarios have been used in a variety of future characterisations including forecasts, projections, and foresights. However, the term migration scenario is rarely well-defined or used consistently. Before developing a set of own scenarios, this document takes the necessary step of providing an overview of the existing literature and provide a definition and typology of migration scenarios. Based on this work, alternative ways of exploring the future of migration (for example in a vignette survey) will be discussed that lay out the bases for the extension of the work in the next deliverables of the work package. MethodsThis document looks at how migration scenarios are used in the literature presenting characterisations of societies’ futures. Relevant documents are systematically retrieved and assigned to one of six categories part of a pre-established typology. The typology rests on the focus (either migration or another aspect of societies influenced by migration) and purpose (either to predict the future, explore the future, or establish how a specific target can be reached) of each future characterisation. Subsequently, the techniques used for generating migration scenarios are described in terms of the approach taken (quantitative or qualitative) and how data is generated and transformed into meaningful output. Finally, the specific geographical context and characteristics of migration and migrants included in the scenarios are explored. ResultsA total of 107 documents were analysed. More than half presented migration scenarios that were developed to answer questions not about migration itself, but about its influence on a population’s future growth, age composition, or economic performance, among others. Future characterisations had most often prediction as purpose, being for example population forecasts, while many others had exploration as purpose, where the sensitivity of a given phenomenon to different migration assumptions is assessed. Most scenarios rest on a quantitative approach rather than on a narrative, but the latter has clearly expanded in the last years. Migration scenarios that follow a quantitative approach often rest on past migration trends to characterise the future, but seldom provide likelihoods that a given scenario will realise. Migration scenarios that follow a qualitative approach, on the other hand, often rest on experts and stakeholders’ views for input, or rely on previously developed storylines. Finally, quantitative scenarios often concentrate on net migration figures inside of a single, usually economically developed country, while qualitative scenarios are more likely to consider bidirectional flows between two (world) regions. ConclusionsThere was an increase over time in the use of qualitative scenarios to characterise the future of migration. However, these scenarios were seldom used to translate storylines into quantitative outputs that specifically aim at predicting future migration flows. Ways to achieve this are discussed, including more advanced data collection techniques among experts and stakeholders, and the consideration of multiple types of migration.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's44
StatusPublished - 2020


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