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Bayesian Probabilistic Projection of International Migration Rates

Jonathan J. Azose and Adrian E Raftery

October 2013 CSSS Working Paper #136



We propose a method for obtaining joint probabilistic projections of migration rates for all countries, broken down by age and sex. Joint trajectories for all countries are constrained to satisfy the requirement of zero global net migration. We evaluate our model using out-of-sample validation and compare point projections to the projected migration rates from a persistence model similar to the method used in the United Nations' World Population Prospects, and also to a state of the art gravity model. We also resolve an apparently paradoxical discrepancy between growth trends in the proportion of the world population migrating and the average absolute migration rate across countries.

Keywords: : Autoregressive model, Bayesian hierarchical model, Gravity model, Markov chain Monte Carlo, Persistence model, World Population Prospects