ESRA 2019 Programme at a Glance


Design and Measurement Challenges in Researching Migrants 2

Session Organisers Dr Agata Górny (University of Warsaw)
Dr Joanna Napierała (University of Warsaw)
Dr Justyna Salamońska (University of Warsaw)
TimeThursday 18th July, 09:00 - 10:30
Room D09

Growth in international mobility has been one of the reasons for the proliferation of research on the migrants. Yet, migrants are populations that pose particular challenges when being surveyed and administrative information about this group is scarce. Difficulties in studying mobile populations can occur at various stages of research design and fieldwork. In our session we would like to focus on the difficulties related to the design and measurement problems. In particular, we propose to map these challenges and provide a forum for a discussion on the ways to tackled them in practice. We would like to focus on challenges related e.g. in designing a longitudinal survey on migrants, to measuring some important migration-specific variables, such as migration events (e.g. trips), ethnic identification indicators, sensitive issues relating to migration (incomes, remittances, legal status), and others. These measurement problems augment in cross-national surveys, essential approach in studies on migrants, that are conducted in differentiated cultural, linguistic and institutional contexts. Additionally, survey traditions and specific answer scales that differ across countries make the harmonisation of data difficult. The measurement challenges intersect with modes of data collection. While majority of surveys on migrant groups are still conducted with the help of face to face interviews (PAPI or CAPI), web-based surveys are reaching in importance in these studies. An opportunity to reach mobile persons via internet opens up a new chapter in migration studies and creates an environment in which surveys can play a more important role in creation of data on migrants in cross-national perspective. Debate on the role of social media and usage of big data in this process paves the way for the future of surveying migrant groups. We invite migration scholars to contribute to the discussion about the future of the migration survey research by sharing their experiences in surveying those groups during our session.

Keywords: migrants, mobile populations, web-based surveys, longitudinal surveys, measurement in surveys

Assessing the Potential of Web-Based RDS for Migration Research in Times of Fluid Mobility

Dr Agata Górny (University of Warsaw)
Dr Justyna Salamońska (University of Warsaw) - Presenting Author

Against a sedentarised understanding of migration, multiple migrants are people who engage in international movements repeatedly and direct these movements at different destination countries. The sequences of these international movements may differ. Multiple migration may involve onward migration from one destination country to another. It can also involve a phase of return to the origin country before going abroad again. Moreover, multiple migration encompasses different geographies
(intra- and intercontinental) and temporalities (from temporary to longer-term).
Richness of multiple migrants’ geographical and temporal trajectories pose particular challenges for quantitative researchers, since this is a hidden and spatially dispersed population for which no sampling frames are available. Against conventional sampling procedures and standard survey approaches this presentation will discuss a test of web-based Respondent Driven Sampling survey in migration field (focusing on Polish multiple migrants). Focus will be on opportunities and challenges of this methodology for researching mobile lives worldwide. Since there was an assumption that Polish multiple migrants were a virtually connected population, the online survey gave the opportunity to reach respondents in different parts of the world, against smaller geographical reach of face-to-face and telephone surveys. The features of web-based RDS will be discussed (selection of seeds, formation of referral chains, weighting procedures, etc) along with the first results of the study.


Migration Trajectories, Family Separation and Legal Trajectories: The Challenges Ahead

Dr Inmaculada Serrano Sanguilinda (Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)) - Presenting Author
Dr Amparo Gonzalez Ferrer (Spanish National Research Council (CSIC))

This presentation focuses on the challenges for measurement of migration-specific variables such as legal status(es) and family reunification. We build on the experience of the TEMPER Surveys conducted with returned migrants from Europe in four different origin countries (Argentina, Romania, Senegal, and Ukraine).
First, we discuss the measurement of multiple migration events. The acknowledgement of “complex” migrant trajectories (involving more than one event) requires careful treatment of the time dimension (when do we need to observe our variables?), also in relation to migration episodes. Since this is costly, a selection of relevant events is needed (e.g. first and last events; generally or with reference to specific destinations, such as inter-continental migration or country-specific migration).
Second, we discuss similar and specific challenges for measuring partners/children’s migration events, in order to analyze patterns of family formation, separation, and reunification; and suggest partial solutions for these challenges consisting of adopting a biographical approach in combination with a CAPI questionnaire. CAPI questionnaires facilitate the collection of biographical data and maximize the capacity to extract relevant information by adjusting follow-up questions to specific profiles and situations. However, some specific challenges also emerge (e.g. treatment of mistakes and corrections).
Third, we will discuss the challenges for capturing legal status trajectories. Even for simple migrants the issue of legal status is difficult to capture in a reliable manner because of the difficulty of the topic (e.g. remember names of programs or documents, durations or dates of issuance, or distinguishing official grounds vs personal reasons), particularly when time has passed and when legal status has varied from the time of entry to the time of exit. These challenges are compounded by context-specific legal regimes, variations across time and different cultural perspectives and sensitivities.


Overqualification of Immigrants: The Discussion of Measurement and Interpretation Challenges on the Example of Czech Surveys.

Dr Yana Leontiyeva (Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences) - Presenting Author

Labour market incorporation of immigrants is generally considered a precondition for the successful integration. In turn, matching the education and skills of migrants to jobs in the destination country is widely used as one of the key indicators of labour market integration. Overqualification is an intensively researched topic in sociology, economy and psychology. There is in fact rather extensive literate on measurement procedures, determining factors and the effects of overqualification; not only for immigrants, but also for other vulnerable groups within hosting society. In my presentation, I want to focus on problematic issues related to measuring overeducation among immigrants. The goal of the paper is twofold: 1) to present major methodological challenges of measuring overqualification of immigrants based on the example of several Czech surveys conducted between 2000 and 2017, and 2) to discuss the usage of overqualification as one of the predictors for integration of immigrants based on the findings from the qualitative research of migrants and their perception of downward mobility and integration.


The Application of Different Operational Definitions of Immigrants: Methodological Challenges and Empirical Outcomes

Dr Stefania Kalogeraki (University of Crete) - Presenting Author

During the last decades the escalation in migratory movements has become a salient issue in Europe and a priority for European policy. Research on migration involves a plethora of complexities; one of the most critical ones involves the operational definitions of immigrants. The foreign-birth and foreign-citizenship criteria most commonly applied to operationalise immigrants are neither interchangeable nor mutually exclusive. Such definitions are interconnected with each host country’s dominant citizenship policies and naturalisation criteria; hence, applying different operational definitions might affect the empirical conclusions drawn in both cross-sectional and cross-national research. The paper using data from four rounds of the European Social Survey (ESS) in Greece and Sweden, i.e. two countries with different citizenship and naturalisation policies, explores the impacts of using the foreign-birth and foreign-citizenship measurements on investigating immigrants’ intra-group relations. The findings underpin that the different operational definitions applied affect the conclusions drawn with respect to the intra-group relations among immigrants residing in two countries under study. The empirical evidence is less noticeable in Sweden (i.e. a host country with more inclusive policies for citizenship ascription); however, in Greece (i.e. a host country with more restrictive policies for citizenship ascription) the two operational definitions provide slightly different stories about the relations among immigrants residing in the country. Migration research has been a key element in informing migration policies and monitoring the effectiveness of policy actions. It is of critical importance researchers to be aware of the potential impacts of using different operational definitions of immigrants on their research outcomes in order to determine the legitimacy of their findings to inform public understanding and policy initiatives.