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The University of Southampton

Uncertainty and complexity of migration Event

Picture of migrants
20 November 2018
British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace

Event details

The second event in our new Public Lecture Series, which focuses on population and migration issues, took place on Tuesday 20 November and examined the uncertainty and complexity of migration.

Watch the lecture video

Uncertainty and complexity of migration

Human migration is very complex. In our increasingly interconnected world, people around the globe choose to move for many different reasons. Some do so in order to escape poverty, war or persecution; others seek new opportunities through jobs, study, family reunion, or try to improve their quality of life.

Migration can impact economies and societies, trigger policy responses, and cause political debate. Once it begins, migration often leads to further mobility, and attempts to restrain it can often result in unintended consequences.

Due to the inherent complexity of international migration, it is also one of the most unpredictable and uncertain population processes and a fascinating area of study. According to the UN, roughly 3.4 per cent of the global population is foreign-born. But migration measures, even in developed countries, are subject to a very high degree of uncertainty; there are different definitions of a long-term migrant and different policy structures which make producing comparable data a challenge.

Administrative systems also impact the accuracy and completeness of some of the data we rely on. Patterns of migration can also quickly alter as a result of changing political and economic circumstances, meaning that migration can be a very difficult process to analyse, predict, and control.

In this session, our experts explored some of the major challenges surrounding migration, including decision-making and accurate methods of measurement and prediction. We also looked at the different ways migration can impact policy, which takes the complexity and uncertainty of the process for what it is: neither something to ignore nor fight against, but rather an inherent feature of mobility that needs to be acknowledged and managed.


In Conversation

This event was the first in our Public Lecture Series to take the form of an 'In Conversation' session, with Jakub Bijak, Professor of Statistical Demography, and Jon Simmons, of the Home Office Analysis and Insight Directorate, examining the complexities of migration in a discussion facilitated by University of Southampton Media Relations Manager Charles Elder.


Speaker profiles

Professor Jakub Bijak

Professor Jakub Bijak, University of Southampton

Jakub is Professor of statistical demography, with 17 years of work experience in academia and international civil service. His research mainly focuses on demographic uncertainty, population models and forecasts, and the demography of armed conflict. He has been awarded the Allianz European Demographer Award (2015) and the Jerzy Z Holzer Medal (2007) for his work on migration modelling and forecasting. He is currently leading a European Research Council (ERC) project on Bayesian agent-based population studies, developing innovative simulation models of migration, and co-leads the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Centre for Population Change modelling strand.

Jon Simmons

Jon Simmons, Home Office Analysis and Insight Directorate

Jon is the Deputy Director for analysis on migration and border policy in the Home Office Analysis and Insight Directorate. He has spent more than two decades working in social policy analysis, providing advice across Government and internationally. In his current role, Jon oversees the publication and development of the immigration statistics and research reports. He also works closely with the Office for National Statistics and others involved in producing data on migration, and provides analytical advice to Home Office policy makers and Ministers.


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The speakers on stage at the British Academy.
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Professor Jakub Bijak, of the University of Southampton.
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Migration and border policy expert Jon Simmons.
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Discussing the uncertainty and complexity of migration.
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Media Relations Manager Charles Elder hosts the discussion.
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Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Jane Falkingham, wraps up the lecture.
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Public Lecture Series 2018

Find out more about this year's public lecture series, dedicated to the subject of population and migration.

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