Note: This vignette was updated August, 2020 to reflect changes to the UNHCR Data API, release of the 2019 International Migrant Stock Population dataset, and subsequent streamlining of the
untools package. This vignette still uses the 2017 version of the Migrant Stock data.
In addition to the Population Statistics, the United Nations provides additional data sets detailing international migrant statistics through the Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Population Division. The most widely used dataset is the International Migrant Stock. This data is featured in several recent academic papers; one of the more prominent examples is Guy Abel’s Quantifying Global International Migration Flows (Abel and Sander 2014). The most recent version is entitled the The 2017 Revision, and is available by total international migrant stocks, by age and sex, and by destination and origin. For this vignette we will focus on the destination and origin version.
Acquiring the Data
The International Migrant Stock: 2017 Revision by Destination and Origin Country is available by direct download link here. Unlike the UNHCR Population Statistics time series data featured in our Exploring United Nations Refugee & Asylum Data With the untools Package vignette, the migrant stock data is not analysis-ready. The data is organized for viewing in complex Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The data is organized in matrices with multiple aggregations listed together, complex headers, and spread across several tabs:
The untools package can streamline the acquisition and processing of UN migrant stock data using the
getUNstocks() function. The
getUNstocks() function will automatically retrieve the dataset over http, remove aggregations above the national level, remove unnecessary columns for analysis, introduce ISO country codes, and melt the matrix into long form. You may select either the 2017 or 2019 version of the Migrant Stock data by specifying
version = '2017'.
getUNstocks() function provides arguments to return the data in wide form
wide = TRUE, and filter data by year with
range = c(2000, 2017). Migrant stock data is available in 5 year intervals starting from 1990 in addition to the revision years (2017, 2019) . By default the
getUNstocks() function includes all data. Viewing data in wide format is convenient for examining time series data outside of a figure. Because the
getUNstocks() function automatically retrieves the Excel spreadsheet from the UN server, it’s advisable to acquire the data using the default settings and perform additional subsetting or casting into wide format using base R, dplyr, data.table, and reshape2. If you don’t have internet connectivity or already have the Excel spreadsheet place the unaltered excel file in your working directory and
getUNstock() will import and process the excel file.
Visualizing UN Stock Data
untools package provides several default plotting function designed to create modern visualizations for static or time series UN migrant stock data. By default
untools will plot a time series of migrant stocks for the 5 greatest populations in the final year. For convenience, the
plot() function will automatically adjust the color palette, title, and subtitle based on the chosen country and the number of positive stock populations for the given time period. With no additional arguments the default plotting function will produce a time series of the top 5 stock populations in 2017 for the United States:
You can specify additional countries using the
country = argument. Lets view stock populations in Russia.
Lastly, you can view a static barplot for a given year using the
mode = 'static and
yr = arguments. Let’s plot the top stock population in Italy during 2005.
Abel, Guy J., and Nikola Sander. 2014. “Quantifying Global International Migration Flows.” Science 343 (6178): 1520–2. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1248676.