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Measuring international migration with traveller-completed passenger cards: the conceptual, administrative and statistical challenges experienced by Australia

Patrick M. Corr, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Abdul Hakim, Australian Bureau of Statistics
Justin Farrow, Australian Bureau of Statistics

Australia, an island state of 20 million people inhabiting a continent of 7.7 million square kilometres with 59,700 kilometres of coastline has over 18 million people cross its borders each year. A small proportion contribute to estimates of immigration and emigration. Accurate measures of international migration are important as this component accounts for just over half of Australia's 1.2% annual population growth. Arrival and departure cards completed by travellers at Australian ports have been the only data source for measuring international migration in Australia for many decades. Recent challenges have been encountered in using this administrative data to compile reliable net international migration estimates. Increases in traveller volumes and frequency of travel have presented conceptual, operational, reporting and statistical challenges. The limitations and recent developments to adjust the reported data suitable for international migration and resident population statistics are described.

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Presented in Session 73: International migration statistics and measurement