Demographic researcher Francesco Rampazzo has claimed the real number of immigrants born in the EU and now living in the UK could be at least 400,000 more than the actual records. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 3.6million European migrants lived in the UK in 2019.
However, Mr Rampazzo’s research concludes that the real figure is around 4million, which is 11 percent higher.
Speaking about his research, Mr Rampazzo said: “Calculating migration is always going to be complicated.
“But the reason for the underestimate is the lack of quality of the official migration data.
“What is striking is our study reveals the underestimate is big.
“This is important because decision-makers require accurate evidence-based information to produce effective policies that affect people’s lives.
“Knowing the number of migrants in a region is important for planning for example for schools and transport.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of knowing the number of residents in the UK for producing reliable estimates of vaccinated people.”
While the official Government figure is based on surveys that collect migration information, Francesco Rampazzo and his team used Facebook data for his research.
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They accessed statistics from Facebook’s advertising platform which the firm uses to give companies information on the age, sex, language, and real-time location data of users.
They focused the research on data from the third week of July 2018 and also July 2019.
This technology can tell where users are accessing the platform, the country they came from and defines a migrant as a person that used to live in one country and now lives in another country.
The 20 countries studied by Mr Rampazzo’s team were Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
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Mr Rampazzo said: “We looked at unemployment and GDP figures for each country to better understand the push and pull factors of migration.
“Why migrants might move away from their home country or return to it.
“It is important to use a combination of different data sources and not rely on similar types.
“The hope is that this research contributes to a learning process and demonstrates a way to produce and more accurate understanding on the complex issue of international migration.”
An ONS spokesman told MailOnline: “Our best estimates show that in mid-2020 there were around 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK.
“We will be updating our estimates to provide the best picture of the population as more information becomes available, in particular the results from Census 2021, which will give further insight when published next year.”
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