New research suggests there are 112,000 undocumented migrants in Belgium

Using a simple but innovative statistical method, researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) estimate that 112,000 people in Belgium are without a residence permit. This was reported on Wednesday in De Standaard, Het Nieuwsblad and Gazet van Antwerpen.

To gain an insight into the entire population of Belgium, including those who are undocumented, demographers from VUB have used a simple but innovative statistical method. These statistics cover all deaths on Belgian territory, including those of unregistered people.

Unregistered people can stay under the radar for long, even until they die. "At that point, people no longer have an interest in remaining hidden," says demographer Johan Surkyn, who led the research.

Every year, around 500 people who are not on the population register die in Belgium. On this basis, the researchers calculate that on any given day there are 489,000 unregistered people on Belgian territory.

These are not all undocumented migrants but also occasional tourists and asylum seekers with residence permits. By subtracting these groups from the 489,000 unregistered people, the researchers arrived at 112,000 undocumented people from outside the Schengen area.

The study has not yet been published in a scientific journal, but the method has attracted interest. "We suspect we will be copied in other countries," says Surkyn. He is confident that the calculations are more accurate than the figures currently in circulation.





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