November 11, 2021 | News | New Publication

Number of Migrants Underestimated in the UK

© Francesco Rampazzo

Studying Facebook data has helped reveal the number of European migrants in the UK has been underestimated by as much as 25 percent according to new research published in the journal Demography.

Currently, official migration statistics are collected and reported by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). But this new study used ‘digital trace’ materials, including the Facebook social media platform, to reveal that, in 2018, there were 25 percent more European migrants in the UK than the ONS statistics suggested and, in 2019, there was an additional 20 percent.

“This study shows that we cannot trust either data source on its own. It is important to combine data sources to have better estimates of migration and measure uncertainty”, says Emilio Zagheni, co-author of the study and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR).

Read the whole expert opinion piece by Francesco Rampazzo from the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic

Original Publication

Rampazzo, F., Bijak, J., Vitali, A., Weber, I., Zagheni; E.: A Framework for Estimating Migrant Stocks Using Digital Traces and Survey Data: An Application in the United Kingdom. Demography (2021) DOI: 10.1215/00703370-9578562

Data and Code

MPIDR-Author of the Paper

Executive Director; Head of the Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography

Emilio Zagheni


+49 381 2081-104

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.