Data and Children on the Move: Unpacking relevant terminology, concepts and data sources

August 24, 2023

Children on the move are among the world’s most vulnerable populations. Many of them face grave threats to their well-being no matter how far they go – whether they move internally, regionally or across continents – and no matter where they go – whether they migrate to low- or high-income settings. Yet the reliable, quality data needed for policies and programmes to protect and empower these children remain largely missing from the evidence base.

To correct for these gaps and improve data quality and comparability between countries, the International Data Alliance for Children on the Move (IDAC) has produced two sister briefs: Children on the Move: Key terms, definitions and concepts and Data and Statistics for Children on the Move: Essential sources and good practices. Packed with data, definitions, resources and promising practices, these publications aim to serve as foundational reference documents for the general public, researchers, policymakers and advocacy organizations. Critically, both briefs call on key stakeholders to work together and coordinate efforts to improve the production, use and sharing of responsible data for children on the move.

Children on the Move: Key terms, definitions and concepts

Migration and displacement terms are often defined differently by various actors, institutions and laws. Yet without clear and standardized definitions, data that accurately reflect the numbers and situations of migrant and displaced children cannot be collected. This reference document aims to promote a conceptual understanding of the term children on the move – who these children are, the subgroups they constitute, what differentiates them and how they are counted (or not counted) – and unpack key migration terms that relate to children. It also presents the latest global data for critical subgroups of children on the move and highlights vulnerable groups for whom there are limited or no available data.

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Data and Statistics for Children on the Move: Essential sources and good practices

Data are foundational to upholding the rights of all children – particularly when it comes to marginalized groups like children on the move. But vast differences in the way governments collect, analyse and use data related to migration and displacement result in inherent limitations and inaccuracies behind the numbers they produce. This means that global estimates of migrant and displaced children compiled by various United Nations bodies – which are based on reports submitted by individual governments – are far from complete. This publication takes a close look at the existing and emerging sources behind data and statistics on migrant and displaced children in order to close these data gaps and improve methodologies. It unpacks the strengths and limitations of key data sources on children on the move and showcases examples of promising national-level initiatives taking place to improve data for this group.

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