September 30, 2008

Model Predicts Immigration Patterns

Scientists at Rockefeller University in New York have developed a mathematical model to help countries predict immigration patterns.

The new formula is based on an extensive examination of the movement of people from 1960 to 2004 into the United States, Australia, Britain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.  

The researchers said the model can be applied to individual regions and countries, although they did not perform such calculations during their study.

Led by Joel Cohen of the Rockefeller University in New York, researchers examined factors such as population size, the density of the countries people left as well as those they entered, and the distance between those two places.

"I think that the model we have will permit international institutions and countries to do a much better job of projecting future migrant flows as part of overall population projections," Cohen said during an interview with Reuters.

Given the low fertility rates in Europe, the United States and elsewhere, immigration has become an important component of population changes worldwide, Cohen said.

Cohen called existing models used by the United Nations and others to predict population flows "inadequate".  These models have sometimes predicted countries would end up with fewer than zero people, he added.

Cohen referenced several notable migration flows worldwide.

For instance, people from South Asia, including Bangladesh and Pakistan, and from Southeast Asia, including Vietnam and the Philippines, are entering the Arab Gulf states for the oil economies, Cohen said.  Elsewhere, Latin American immigrants are entering Canada and the U.S., while immigrants from Africa and the Middle East are entering Europe.

Cohen worked with Marta Roig, a U.N. population expert, in conducting the research. The findings were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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