Online Invited Seminar Talk

Openness to Migrate Internationally for a Job: Evidence from LinkedIn Data

Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography
Online Invited Seminar Talk, June 01, 2021

Sarah Johnson, PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research introduced a novel data source: aggregate-level information on LinkedIn users open to work-related international relocation.


Much migration research falls short in explaining why people choose to move – or stay – and to where. The “aspiration-(cap)ability” framework separates the decision-making process prior to migration from migration itself (or lack thereof) and is well-suited for answering these questions.

Increasing surveys capturing migration aspirations have also contributed to recent empirical advancement. There are a number of limitations that come with using traditional survey data, though, including an often narrow scope, spatio-temporal restrictions, and lack of inter-survey comparability. To address some of these limitations we offer analyses relying on a novel data source: aggregate-level information on LinkedIn users open to work-related international relocation.

Compared to traditional survey data, these data are relatively less expensive to collect, are continuously available, have consistently defined variables across 24 different languages, and provide a global snapshot of openness to migration as recent as the latest update to a person’s LinkedIn profile. We identify the utility of this novel LinkedIn dataset for studying openness to international migration, presenting preliminary results on the relative attractiveness of certain countries through adaptation of a gravity-type model. Lastly we discuss the limitations of this dataset and future research areas to overcome these obstacles.


Sarah Johnson is currently a doctoral student in the Lab of Digital & Computational Demography at MPIDR and is also affiliated with the Faculty of Spatial Sciences at the University of Groningen. She holds an MSc in Demography & Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and was formerly employed as a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.