Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

You are where you e-mail: Global migration trends discovered in email data

29.06.2012
Worldwide mobility increases - for women more than for men

For the first time comparable migration data is available for almost every country of the world. To date, records were incompatible between nations and especially by gender and age, nonexistent. Emilio Zagheni from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany, for the first time provides a rich migration database by compiling the global flow of millions of e-mails.


U.S. Emigration unveiled: by analysing millions of emails the first consistent figure of those emigrating from the USA was made possible. The curves show those who sent most of their emails from the U.S. between September 2009 to June 2010 but consistently wrote the majority of their messages from abroad between July 2010 and June 2011. © MPI for Demographic Research

“Where estimates of demographic flows exist, they are often outdated and largely inconsistent,” says MPIDR researcher Emilio Zagheni. Official records are difficult to use for various reasons. Emigrants tend not to register after they move to a new country or do so very late. There is also no clear agreement between nations on how to actually define a migrant.

Official migration data is outdated and inconsistent

“Global internet data does not have these drawbacks,” says Zagheni. “You are where you email.” Together with Ingmar Weber from Yahoo! Research he traced emails sent from Yahoo! accounts around the world to infer the residence of its sender. Every device which sends email can be located at least at the country level by an internationally standardized code, the so-called IP address. Zagheni and Weber analysed the countries derived from IP addresses for a set of messages sent by 43 million anonymous Yahoo! account holders between September 2009 and June 2011.
In addition to the date and geographical origin of each message they compiled the self-reported birthday and gender of the sender. When a person started sending e-mail from a new location permanently, it was assumed that he or she had changed residence. This way they were able to calculate rates of migration from and to almost every country in the world. Only anonym zed data was used, so identifying individuals was impossible and no information about the recipients, the subject, or content of a message was accessed. The findings have now been published in the ACM Web Science Conference Proceedings.

The results not only are a proof of concept. They also reveal international migration characteristics never seen before. For the USA, Zagheni and Weber were able to produce the first curve of emigration by age and sex ever. “In the U.S. many statistics are collected about people who move into the country, but there is no system that keeps track of people who move out,” says Emilio Zagheni.

The potential of the email statistics goes far beyond calculating gross country profiles. For instance, the researchers also looked into Mexico-US cross-border mobility. The data reveals how strongly both countries are demographically integrated: most people who moved from Mexico to the United States either spent time in the USA before emigrating north, or went back to visit Mexico soon after moving to the United States. Those in their 30s have the highest rate of mobility across the Mexico-US border, while the least mobile are those 50 and older.

Only the tip of the iceberg

The strength of Zagheni’s and Weber’s migration data comes not only from the vast number of emails available, but also from a mathematical model they set up to adjust for typical shortcomings of email statistics: those who send email are not representative of the entire population. Some groups, like the elderly, use email less or not at all and are thus underrepresented. But the researchers managed to calculate adjustment factors for such groups by gauging their email data against migration numbers from European countries, where official data is fairly reliable.

“What we addressed so far is only the tip of the iceberg,” says Emilio Zagheni. With further fine-tuning of the adjustment factors and mining more digital data like twitter messages, more difficult questions could be tackled. For instance one could keep track of the short and long-term mobility patterns before and after a crisis like that of the Japanese Fukushima reactors. Unquestionably, digital records give demographers the chance to gain a more accurate picture of population dynamics in regions they can so far only guess about, says Zagheni. “This research has the most potential in developing countries, where the Internet spreads much faster than registration programs develop.”
Contact
Emilio Zagheni
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Phone: +49 381 2081-227
Fax: +49 381 2081-527
Email: zagheni@­demogr.mpg.de
Silvia Leek
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Phone: +49 381 2081-143
Fax: +49 381 2081-443
Email: leek@­demogr.mpg.de
Original publication
Emilio Zagheni, Ingmar Weber
You are where you E-mail: Using E-mail Data to Estimate International Migration Rates

ACM Web Science Conference Proceedings, June 25, 2012

Emilio Zagheni | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mpg.de/5868212/internet_demographics

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Study shines light on brain cells that coordinate movement

26.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Smooth propagation of spin waves using gold

26.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Switchable DNA mini-machines store information

26.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>