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“Where estimates of demographic flows exist, they are often outdated and largely inconsistent,” says MPIDR researcher Emilio Zagheni.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Official migration data is outdated and inconsistent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 Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>