Measuring international migration using travel histories

Estimates of international migration that use a new outcomes-based measure, the ‘12/16-month rule’, are now updated, Stats NZ said.

In May 2017, Stats NZ introduced a new measure of migration that identifies an individual’s migrant status after we observe their travel history over a 16-month follow-up period. We also produced a historic data series using the new measure.

Defining migrants using travel histories and the ‘12/16-month rule’ describes the new measure.

The release extends the time series that uses the new measure, progresses the planned regular updating of the new time series, and provides insight into how migration outcomes compare with people’s intentions when they cross the border.

“With the pending removal of departure cards, developing the ‘12/16-month rule’ is a part of our work towards ensuring we can measure migration without depending on traveller cards,” population statistics senior manager Peter Dolan said.

“In the near future, the outcomes-based ‘12/16-month rule’ is expected to become a key component in how we determine the number of migrants in New Zealand.”

Historical data from the first release in May 2017, which we prepared using data from the Stats NZ Integrated Data Infrastructure, covers January 2001–December 2014. The newly released update to the series uses international travel and migration data, which is more timely, is sourced from New Zealand Customs, and covers January 2015–March 2016.

When comparing migrant numbers from both measures, we found that migrant arrivals and departures were higher when classified by the 12/16-month rule. Despite the difference in the numbers, the overall trend in migrant arrivals and departures was similar for both measures.

Net migration gains from the two measures track closely and also follow a similar trend.

Source: Stats NZ

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