Queries to Google Search as Predictors of Migration Flows from Latin America to Spain

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Dawid K. Wladyka


This study evaluates the relationship between the changes in proportion of migration-related queries reported by Google Trends and changes in volume of migration flows between origin and destination countries. The study assesses if cost-free Google Trends improves the prediction of international migratory flows, and whether it could be proposed as a tool for organizations and policymakers. Previous research has used the activity of email users and other online services to track human mobility. At the same time, IP geolocation linked to Google Search has proven to be efficient in geographically tracking outbreaks of illnesses, as well as predicting changes in economic indicators and travel patterns. This research draws from both experiences. It uses a regression analysis of time series data to compare the popularity of migration related queries introduced to Google Search in Colombia, Argentina and Peru, to changes in a quantity of residents’ registrations in Spain, performed by immigrants proceeding from these countries between the years 2005 and 2010. The results show a significant correlation and weak to moderate predictability for the lags of several months depending on the particular country. The findings demonstrate that trends in queries to Google Search provided by Google Trends might constitute a useful predictor of migration flows. At the same time, it indicates the need for further technological developments to improve analytical capacities.



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Wladyka, D. (2017). Queries to Google Search as Predictors of Migration Flows from Latin America to Spain. Journal of Population and Social Studies [JPSS], 25(4), 312-327. Retrieved from https://www.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/jpss/article/view/102268


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