Volume 25 - Article 3 | Pages 103-134

Sampling international migrants with origin-based snowballing method: New evidence on biases and limitations

By Cris Beauchemin, Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer

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Date received:07 Dec 2010
Date published:08 Jul 2011
Word count:10982
Keywords:international migration, sample, survey methodology


This paper provides a methodological assessment of the advantages and drawbacks of the origin-based snowballing technique as a reliable method to construct representative samples of international migrants in destination areas. Using data from the MAFE-Senegal Project, our results indicate that this is a very risky method in terms of quantitative success. Besides, it implies some clear selection biases: it over-represents migrants more strongly connected to their home country, and it tends to overestimate both poverty in households at origin and the influence of previous migration experiences of social networks on individuals’ out-migration.

Author's Affiliation

Cris Beauchemin - Institut national d'études démographiques (INED), France [Email]
Amparo Gonzalez-Ferrer - Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Spain [Email]

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» Reconstructing trends in international migration with three questions in household surveys: Lessons from the MAFE project
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