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Now-casting International Migration with Online Search Keywords

Despite recent improvements in data collection and measurement, data on migration intentions and out-flows remains scarce, largely inconsistent across countries, and often outdated. Rapidly growing internet usage around the world provides geo-referenced online search data that can be exploited to measure migration intentions in origin countries in order to predict subsequent outflows well-ahead of official data publication (now-casting). We contribute to the literature by projecting flows using Google Trend Index data (GTI) on migration-specific search terms. Based on fixed effects panel models of migration as well as machine learning and prediction techniques, we show that our approach yields substantial predictive power for international migration flows. We provide evidence based on survey data that our measures indeed reflect genuine emigration intentions. They can hence not only be used in research but may also inform border control or humanitarian aid management and thus matter for policy-makers in both developing and developed countries.

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World's leading professional association of Internet Research Specialists - We deliver Knowledge, Education, Training, and Certification in the field of Professional Online Research. The AOFIRS is considered a major contributor in improving Web Search Skills and recognizes Online Research work as a full-time occupation for those that use the Internet as their primary source of information.

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