Encyclopedia of Migration

Living Edition
| Editors: Reed Ueda

Indirect Methods for Estimating Internal Migration

  • Richelle Winkler
  • Katherine J. Curtis
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6179-7_83-1



Indirect methods are a set of techniques used to estimate net migration and net migration rates based on population counts and other characteristics (i.e., vital statistics, life tables) at two successive time periods. The methods do not require administrative data collection of individuals’ moves or specific survey or census questions about migration. They are applied to geographic units (e.g., counties, states) and can be calculated for subpopulations (e.g., age, sex, race, ethnicity).

Detailed Description

Indirect methods estimate net migration based on the principles of the demographic balancing equation, which explains that a population in a given geography changes through births, deaths, and migration. Population change between two time periods for any geographic area is the combined result of natural increase (births minus deaths) and net migration (in-migration minus out-migration). The demographic balancing...


Life Table Vital Statistic International Migration Natural Increase Survival Ratio 
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  1. McInnis RM (1974) Census survival ratio estimates of net migration for Canadian regions. Can Stud Popul 1:93–116Google Scholar
  2. Siegel JS, Hamilton CH (1952) Some considerations in the use of the residual method of estimating net migration. J Am Stat Assoc 47(259):475–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Hamilton CH (1967) The vital statistics method of estimating net migration by age cohorts. Demography 4(21):464–478CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Morrison PA, Bryan TM, Swanson DA (2004) Chapter 19: Internal migration and short-distance mobility. In: Swanson DA, Siegel JS (eds) The methods and materials of demography, 2nd ed. Elsevier Academic Publishing out of San Diego, CA, pp 503–508 on “Residual Estimates”Google Scholar
  3. Smith SK, Swanson DA (1998) In defense of the net migrant. J Econ Soc Meas 24(3–4):249–264Google Scholar
  4. Thomas DS, Arias J, Bachi R, Eldridge HT, Elizaga JC, Kono S, Macura M, Shryock HS, van den Brink T, Zachariah KC (1970) United Nations. Chapter 2: Indirect measures of net internal migration. In: United Nations manual VI, methods of measuring internal migration. United Nations Publication, Sales No. E. 70.XIII.3Google Scholar
  5. Voss PR, McNiven S, Hammer RB, Johnson KM, Fuguitt GV (2004) County-specific net migration by five-year age groups, Hispanic origin, race and sex 1990–2000, CDE Working Paper no 2004–24. Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, MadisonGoogle Scholar
  6. Winkler RL, Johnson KM, Cheng C, Beaudoin JM, Voss PR, and KJ Curtis (2013) Age-specific net migration estimates for US counties, 1950–2010. Applied Population Laboratory, University of Wisconsin- Madison. Web. Accessed 9/29/2015. www.netmigration.wisc.edu

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA
  2. 2.University of WisconsinMadisonUSA