Accurately predicting asylum seekers

In general, all migration flows are notorious for being difficult to model and forecast, but those generated by shocks, such as political crises, armed conflict or persecution are especially so. The movement of asylum seekers and refugees are some of the most unpredictable forms of migration, yet they have very high policy, political and societal impact. In many cases, it is not even possible to provide accurate estimates of migrant flows, yet the assumptions behind the existing migration forecasts do not reflect that uncertainty and are often unjustifiably precise.

CPC Members at the University of Southampton have successfully won a bid to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) to examine these unpredictable flows of asylum seekers. Led by Dr Jakub Bijak, the project 'Survey of methodology on the quantitative assessment of the phenomenon of asylum-related migration' will identify, review and assess the various quantitative models for explaining and predicting asylum-related migration, with the view of aiding the development of a bespoke EASO asylum model.

This study will build on the report completed by CPC for the Migration Advisory Committee, but will focus on the flows of asylum seekers rather than the broader categories of migration. The work will concentrate on the following areas:

1. A comprehensive overview of existing empirical models, particularly of asylum-related migration, including their typology.

2. A description of the extent of empirical data available for each model and the practical solutions employed to address gaps in the information.

3. An assessment of existing models employed within states and international organisations, and the advantages/disadvantages of each, highlighting potential areas of overlap and synergy.

Of the project, Jakub said "It's a fascinating project, which will allow us to build on our previous work on migration modelling and to develop it further in the context of asylum flows. In particular, we will be looking at the ways in which the policymakers dealing with asylum can be supported in their responses to crises, such as the current one, under very high levels of uncertainty about what will happen."

Professor Jonathan Forster and Jason Hilton will work alongside Dr Bijak on this project.

For further information on this study please see the project page.

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