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UNECE helps Armenia improve migration statistics by using administrative data

Yerevan street view

A UNECE working paper released today, Population and migration statistics in Armenia: current situation, future plans and ways to improve describes how Armenia is improving its statistics on population and migration by combining administrative data with sample surveys. The study reviews innovations developed for Armenia’s October 2022 population census, and discusses how they could be extended to improve the regular production of annual international migration statistics after the census.  

Statistics on the size and movement of the population are important for policymaking in any country. At the request of the Statistical Committee of the Republic of Armenia (Armstat), UNECE provided technical support to explore ways to strengthen and modernize the production of these kinds of statistics, with the aim of making them more frequent, more timely, more accurate and more efficient to produce.  

The working paper details the findings of an in-depth study of the way that population and migration statistics are currently produced in Armenia, and the potential offered by new sources and methods to fulfil these ambitious aims. 

A conventional approach to producing annual population statistics is to begin with the full data on a country’s population gathered from the census, a complete count of everyone living in a country conducted every ten years. The last such census in Armenia, prior to 2022, was in 2011. Data on births are then added to this, data on deaths are subtracted, and adjustments are made using data on changes of residence—whether within the country’s borders or international. This allows the statistical office to give an up-to-date picture of the current population at yearly intervals in-between censuses. 

Such an approach has limitations. For instance, the registration of residence is notoriously incomplete in many countries, Armenia included—especially when it comes to international migration. Data from sample surveys offer another source of information on migration. In Armenia, the Household Integrated Living Conditions Survey (ILCS) is used for net migration estimates, but the representativity of the data in terms of age, sex and spatial distribution of the population is limited. 

As well as problems of completeness and representativity, data sources sometimes have issues related to the concepts and definitions used. Administrative data on border crossings from Armenia’s Border Management Information System offer great potential, but the time criteria used to define migrants are not the same as those recommended in the internationally-agreed UN guidance on migration statistics. 

Seeing that there was room for improvement in its system of migration and population statistics, Armstat embarked on a project to link administrative data from multiple sources with data from the October 2022 census, which was for the first time produced through a combination of data from a population register and a sample survey. Data from the register were linked with individual records on border entries and exits, making it possible to distinguish between those living in the country and those who have moved abroad, resulting in a more accurate picture of the current population than has previously been achieved. 

Aided by the UNECE study, the plan in Armenia is to develop a permanent system of population and migration statistics going forward, employing some of the approaches used for the 2022 census and paying special attention to issues identified in the UNECE report and the measures proposed to tackle them. The report also proposes a number of possible comparisons between the population register and other existing datasets, and provides suggestions for improving the regular production of migration statistics. 

The working paper, and the study underlying it, are an example of the support that UNECE provides to member States to improve their production of population and migration statistics, by developing methodology, facilitating exchange of experience, and providing technical support on demand.  

Countries: Armenia

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