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Surveying migrant households: a comparison of census-based, snowball and intercept point surveys

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Few representative surveys of households of migrants exist, limiting our ability to study the effects of international migration on sending families. We report the results of an experiment that was designed to compare the performance of three alternative survey methods in collecting data from Japanese–Brazilian families, many of whom send migrants to Japan. The three surveys that were conducted were households selected randomly from a door-to-door listing using the Brazilian census to select census blocks, a snowball survey using Nikkei community groups to select the seeds and an intercept point survey that was collected at Nikkei community gatherings, ethnic grocery stores, sports clubs and other locations where family members of migrants are likely to congregate. We analyse how closely well-designed snowball and intercept point surveys can approach the much more expensive census-based method in terms of giving information on the characteristics of migrants, the level of remittances received and the incidence and determinants of return migration.

Keywords: Intercept point; Migration; Snowball survey; Surveying rare elements

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: World Bank, Washington DC, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2009


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