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The purpose of this paper is to review ten prominent sources of data on inter national migration, specifically in light of their relevance to research on the ‘superdiversification’ of international migration in the post-World War II period, and in particular to the hypothesis that migration patterns involving large flows between few places have shifted to patterns involving smaller flows between more places. In addition to an introduction and conclusion the paper comprises two main sections. The first discusses the types of underlying source data from which global migration datasets are generally composed, highlighting their particular characteristics and the challenges of availability and compatibility which arise when combining them to create more comprehensive databases. The second section of the paper provides a brief review of several hundred words for each of ten major international migration datasets. The conclusion draws attention to three datasets of particular relevance to studying the superdiversification of migration: the OECD’s SOPEMI Database, the UNPD’s Flows to and from Selected Countries (2008 Revision), and the emerging World Bank-led Database of Global Bilateral Migration History. The paper ends by noting that while analyses of these databases can yield a macro-view of the diversification of international migration, micro-data are in the long run needed to probe the intricacies of superdiversity.

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Working paper


Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

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Total pages



international migration, superdiversity, flows, global migration data