Migration and Development Brief

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Migration and Development Briefs are prepared by the Migration and Remittances Unit, Development Economics (DEC). The brief aims to provide an update on key developments in the area of migration and remittance flows and related policies over the past six months. It also provides medium-term projections of remittance flows to developing countries. A special topic is included in each brief. The brief is produced twice a year.

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Migration and Remittances: Recent Developments and Outlook

2015-04-13, Ratha, Dilip K., De, Supriyo, Dervisevic, Ervin, Plaza, Sonia, Schuettler, Kirsten, Shaw, William, Wyss, Hanspeter, Yi, Soonhwa, Yousefi, Seyed Reza

Using newly available census data, the stock of international migrants is estimated at 247 million in 2013, significantly larger than the previous estimate of 232 million, and is expected to surpass 250 million in 2015. Migrants’ remittances to developing countries are estimated to have reached $436 billion in 2014, a 4.4 percent increase over the 2013 level. All developing regions recorded positive growth except Europe and Central Asia (ECA), where remittance flows contracted due to the deterioration of the Russian economy and the depreciation of the ruble. In 2015, however, the growth of remittance flows to developing countries is expected to moderate sharply to 0.9 percent to $440 billion, led by a 12.7 percent decline in ECA and slowdown in East Asia and the Pacific, Middle-East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The positive impact on flows of a robust recovery in the US will be partially offset by continued weakness in Europe, the impact of lower oil prices on the Russian economy, the strengthening of the US dollar, and tighter immigration controls in many source countries for remittances. Remittance flows are expected to recover in 2016 to reach $479 billion by 2017, in line with the more positive global economic outlook.

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Remittance Flows in 2011 : An Update

2012-04-23, Ratha, Dilip

Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries are estimated to have reached $372 billion in 2011, an increase of 12.1 percent over 2010. The growth rate of remittances was higher in 2011 than in 2010 for all regions except Middle East and North Africa, where flows were moderated by the Arab Spring. Remittance flows to developing countries are expected to grow at 7-8 percent annually to reach $467 billion by 2014. Worldwide remittance flows, including those to high-income countries, are expected to reach $615 billion by 2014. Major revisions to our December 2011 estimates include remittance flows to Egypt, India, China, and Thailand.

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Role of Post Offices in Remittances and Financial Inclusion

2011-03, Clotteau, Nils, Ansón, José

Historically post offices have played a role in the provision of remittances and basic financial services to low-income populations. As this function is being revived in an increasing number of developing and emerging countries, remittance services can be improved to better match financial inclusion goals. This paper describes the efforts being made in Sub-Saharan Africa to increase access to remittance services through post offices in small towns and rural areas, and discusses how this improved access could be used to develop crucial savings and other financial services for the poor. The outcomes are encouraging, though a number of constraints must be removed to fully realize the potential of posts in this area.

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Migration and Development Brief, No. 20

2013-04-19, Aga, Gemechu Ayana, Eigen-Zucchi, Christian, Plaza, Sonia, Silwal, Ani Rudra

Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries reached an estimated $401 billion in 2012, growing by 5.3 percent compared with 2011. Remittance flows are expected to grow at an average of 8.8 percent annual rate during 2013-2015 to about $515 billion in 2015. Employment conditions in the United States (U.S.), including for migrants are improving, as also reflected in the quota for H-1B visas being rapidly filled for fiscal year 2014. Political momentum behind immigration reform in the US is growing. Average remittance prices were broadly unchanged at just above 9 percent over the last year, while the weighted average dropped in the first quarter of 2013 to an all-time low of 6.9 percent. While this suggests progress in reducing prices in high volume remittance corridors, prices continue to remain high in smaller corridors, affecting countries that have greater dependence on remittances. Migration and remittances are being featured in ongoing discussions on the millennium development goals and the post-2015 agenda.

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Outlook for Remittance Flows 2012-14 : Remittance Flows to Developing Countries Exceed $350 Billion in 2011

2011-12-01, Mohapatra, Sanket, Ratha, Dilip, Silwal, Ani

Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries are estimated to have reached $351 billion in 2011, up 8 percent over 2010. For the first time since the global financial crisis, remittance flows to all six developing regions rose in 2011. Growth of remittances in 2011 exceeded our earlier expectations in four regions, especially in Europe and Central Asia (due to higher outward flows from Russia that benefited from high oil prices) and Sub-Saharan Africa (due to strong south-south flows and weaker currencies in some countries that attracted larger remittances). By contrast, growth in remittance flows to Latin America and Caribbean was lower than previously expected, due to continuing weakness in the U.S. economy and Spain. Remittance costs have fallen steadily from 8.8 percent in 2008 to 7.3 percent in the third quarter of 2011. However, remittance costs continue to remain high, especially in Africa and in small nations where remittances provide a life line to the poor.

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Outlook for Remittance Flows 2011-12 : Recovery After the Crisis, But Risks Lie Ahead

2010-11, Mohapatra, Sanket, Ratha, Dilip, Silwa, Ani

Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries are estimated to increase by 6 percent to $325 billion in 2010. This marks a healthy recovery from a 5.5 percent decline registered in 2009. Remittance flows are expected to increase by 6.2 percent in 2011 and 8.1 percent in 2012, to reach $374 billion by 2012. This outlook for remittance flows, however, is subject to the risks of a fragile global economic recovery, volatile currency and commodity price movements, and rising anti-immigration sentiment in many destination countries. From a medium-term view, three major trends are apparent: (a) a high level of unemployment in the migrant-receiving countries has prompted restrictions on new immigration; (b) the application of mobile phone technology for domestic remittances has failed to spread to cross-border remittances; and (c) developing countries are becoming more aware of the potential for leveraging remittances and diaspora wealth for raising development finance.

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Remittances to Developing Countries Will Surpass $400 Billion in 2012

2012-11-20, Ratha, Dilip, Silwal, Ani

The officially recorded remittances to developing countries are expected to reach 406 billion dollar in 2012, up by 6.5 percentage from 381 billion dollar in 2011. The true size of remittance flows, including unrecorded flows through formal and informal channels, is believed to be significantly larger. Compared to private capital flows, remittance flows have shown remarkable resilience since the global financial crisis, registering only a modest fall in 2009, followed by a rapid recovery. The size of remittance flows to developing countries is now more than three times that of official development assistance.

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Outlook for Remittance Flows 2011-13 : Remittance Flows Recover to pre-Crisis Levels

2011-05, Mohapatra, Sanket, Ratha, Dilip, Silwal, Ani

Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries recovered quickly to $325 billion in 2010 after the global financial crisis. But they have not kept pace with rising prices in recipient countries. Remittance flows are expected to grow at lower but more sustainable rates of 7-8 percent annually during 2011-13 to reach $404 billion by 2013. Remittance flows to Latin America are growing again in 2011 because of the stabilization of the U.S. economy. Remittance flows from Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to Asia have been strong due to high oil prices. However, weak job markets in Western Europe are creating pressures to reduce migration. The crisis in the Middle East and North Africa has brought a great deal of uncertainty for migration and remittance flows. These political crises and the recent global financial crisis have highlighted, once again, the need for high-frequency data on migration and remittances.

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Outlook for Remittance Flows 2010-11 : Remittance Flows to Developing Countries Remained Resilient in 2009, Expected to Recover During 2010-11

2010-04, Ratha, Dilip, Silwal, Ani

Officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries reached $316 billion in 2009, down 6 percent from $336 billion in 2008. With improved prospects for the global economy, remittance flows to developing countries are expected to increase by 6.2 percent in 2010 and 7.1 percent in 2011, a faster pace of recovery in 2010 than our earlier forecasts. The decline in remittance flows to Latin America that began with the onset of financial crisis in the United States appears to have bottomed out since the last quarter of 2009. Remittance flows to South Asia (and to a smaller extent East Asia) continued to grow in 2009 although at markedly slower pace than in the pre-crisis years. Flows to Europe and Central Asia and Middle-East and North Africa fell more than expected in 2009. These regional trends reveal that: (a) the more diverse the migration destinations, the more resilient are remittances; (b) the lower the barriers to labor mobility, the stronger the link between remittances and economic cycles in that corridor; and (c) exchange rate movements produce valuation effects, but they also influence the consumption-investment motive for remittances. The resilience of remittances during the financial crisis has highlighted their importance in countries facing external financing gaps. Remittances are now being factored into sovereign ratings in middle-income countries and debt sustainability analysis in low-income countries. Countries are also becoming increasingly aware of the income and wealth of overseas diaspora as potential sources of capital. Some countries are showing interest in financial instruments such as diaspora bonds and securitization of future remittances to raise international capital.