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ANU-led research on population movements in Asia-Pacific receives funding boost

Funding boost for Asia-Pacific population study

10 November 2016

An ANU-led research project on population movements in Asia-Pacific has received more than $AU400,000 in the latest round of ARC funding grants.

Researchers from the ANU Colleges of Business and Economics (CBE) and Arts & Social Sciences (CASS), the University of Manchester University, and Shanghai University are collaborating on the project to develop statistical models of population movements in the Asia-Pacific region.

International migration is increasing and thriving in the Asia-Pacific region but data on the annual movements and pathways are largely unknown because the data are unavailable for cross-national comparison. The project aims to harmonise, correct for errors and estimate annual flows by origin, destination, age and sex.

With a decline in local production and shrinkage in the resources sector, the Australian economy is now at a critical crossroads for its long-term growth and prosperity. Gaining a deeper understanding of the Asia-Pacific region will help to build new foundations of competitive advantage to maintain the well-being and standard of living of Australians.

Dr Hanlin Shang, Senior Lecturer in Statistics at the ANU College of Business and Economics and Chief Investigator on the project, shared some insights about the work at hand.

Can you provide a brief background as to how the collaboration came about?

James Raymer from the School of Demography contacted me to ask if I would like to be involved in modelling migration flows amongst countries in the Asia Pacific region. He needed someone to lead the statistical modelling aspect of the project. We had previously worked together when I was at the ESRC Centre for Population Change at the University of Southampton. 

The project also includes Juliet Pietsch from the School of Political Science and International Relations and two Partner Investigators, Arkadiusz Wisniowski from the University of Manchester and Guy Abel from Shanghai University.

Is there a novel approach you’re taking to the project?

Yes, we will be developing new statistical models to deal with a complicated inadequate and missing data situation. This will involve both harmonising existing data and estimating missing migration flows for most countries in the Asia Pacific region. Migration flows are a major force of demographic and societal change. Our estimates will provide a much needed evidence base to inform how population are changing.

Will the project influence outcomes on academia, public policy and everyday society/people?

We plan to communicate our results with statistical offices around the region, including the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Department of Immigration and Broader Protection, as well as the United Nations and World Bank. The outcomes of this project will not only generate interdisciplinary research papers, but could also be useful for improving social policy and government planning, particularly in areas where migration is important. 

By comparison, what kind of outcomes have resulted from information gathered on populations movements in other regions, such as Europe or the Americas?

This project builds on previous modelling efforts in Europe led by James Raymer, namely the IMEM (Integrated Modeling of European Migration) project, which produced harmonised and complete estimates of migration flows amongst in the European Union and European Free Trade Association with measures uncertainty.

ANU participating researchers are from the Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies & Statistics (CBE), the School of Demography (CASS) and the School of Politics and International Relations.

Updated:   2 March 2017 / Responsible Officer:  Dean, Business & Economics / Page Contact:  College Web Team