MPIDR Working Paper

Leveraging census data to study migration flows in Latin America and the Caribbean: an assessment of the available data sources

Bengochea Soria, J., Del Fava, E., Prieto Rosas, V., Zagheni, E.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2021-019, 22 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (October 2021)
Open Access


Although the scarcity of accurate and accessible data on international migration flows typically prevents a full understanding of migratory patterns, this might not be the case for Latin America, where high-quality census data on migrant flows is publicly available through the project International Migration in Latina America (IMILA). However, such data has mostly been used for research at the regional level because of the fragmented nature of their availability and the lack of English documentation. To tackle this issue, we consolidated data from the IMILA collection to provide a harmonized dataset with five-year flows by country of birth, sex, and age group, for 19 countries of destination and five census waves. Moreover, comparing IMILA to other two available data sources on flows to Latin America, we showed that IMILA provides a more accurate assessment of migration flows from North America and Europe, enables a better quantification of minor migration flows, and enhances the visibility of female migration.

Keywords: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay, census data, data collection, data comparability, international migration, migration flow
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.