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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  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    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.
  • Publication
    Outlook for Remittance Flows 2012-14 : Remittance Flows to Developing Countries Exceed $350 Billion in 2011
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    Outlook for Remittance Flows 2011-12 : Recovery After the Crisis, But Risks Lie Ahead
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    Migration and Remittance Trends 2009 : A Better-Than-Expected Outcome So Far, But Significant Risks Ahead
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-11) Ratha, Dilip; Silwal, Ani
    Newly available data show that officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries reached $338 billion in 2008, higher than our previous estimate of $328 billion. Based on monthly and quarterly data released by some central banks and in line with the World Bank's global economic outlook we estimate that remittance flows to developing countries will fall to $317 billion in 2009. This 6.1 percent decline is smaller than our earlier expectation of a 7.3 percent fall. While new migration flows have fallen, existing migrants are not returning even though the job market has been weak in many destination countries. We maintain our expectation of a recovery in migration and remittance flows in 2010 and 2011, but the recovery is likely to be shallow. In all the regions, remittance flows are likely to face three downside risks: a jobless economic recovery, tighter immigration controls, and unpredictable exchange rate movements. Despite these risks, remittances are expected to remain more resilient than private capital flows and will become even more important as a source of external financing in many developing countries. Policy responses should involve efforts to facilitate migration and remittances, to make these flows cheaper, safer and more productive for both the sending and the receiving countries.
  • Publication
    Protecting Temporary Workers : Migrant Welfare Funds from Developing Countries
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-10) Ruiz, Neil G.; Rannveig, Dovelyn Agunias
    This brief provides an overview and lessons on how countries of origin governments can play a major role in protecting their migrants abroad through migrant welfare funds. It draws from a study by the Migration Policy Institute, on the Philippine Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), a US$172 million government-operated welfare fund that is funded by a mandatory US$25 membership fee for departing Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The Philippine experience shows that a welfare fund has to: (1) find the right balance of services; (2) create meaningful partnerships; (3) build accountability with its members; and (4) actively involve destination countries.
  • Publication
    Managing Migration : Lessons from the Philippines
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-08) Ruiz, Neil G.
    This note provides a glimpse of the institutions built to manage migration in the Philippines. It describes how one country of origin government helps its migrants by regulating overseas employment recruitment, informing migrants of available resources abroad through a mandatory deployment process, providing protection and representation through a migrant welfare fund and absentee voting, and developing recording mechanisms to understand migrants' needs. Managing migration also comes with a price and governments need to develop a coordinated strategy to sustain such endeavors.
  • Publication
    International Migration and Technological Progress
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-02) Burns, Andrew; Mohapatra, Sanket
    Along with international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI), international migration is an important channel for the transmission of technology and knowledge. However, the direction and scale of technology flows that result from international migration are less clear than for FDI and trade. Remittances to developing countries have grown steadily in recent years, reaching an estimated $240 billion in 2007, and are now larger than FDI and equity inflows in many countries, especially small, low-income countries. Remittances can support the diffusion of technology by reducing the credit constraints of receiving households and encouraging investment and entrepreneurship. Remittance flows have also contributed to the extension of banking services (often by using innovative technologies), including microfinance, to previously unserved, often rural sectors.