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
    Remittance Flows in 2011 : An Update
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    Outlook for Remittance Flows 2011-13 : Remittance Flows Recover to pre-Crisis Levels
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    Role of Post Offices in Remittances and Financial Inclusion
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • Publication
    Outlook for Remittance Flows 2010-11 : Remittance Flows to Developing Countries Remained Resilient in 2009, Expected to Recover During 2010-11
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 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.
  • 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
    Outlook for Remittance Flows 2009-2011 : Remittances Expected to Fall by 7-10 Percent in 2009
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-07) Ratha, Dilip; Silwal, Ani
    Newly available data show that remittance flows to developing countries reached $328 billion in 2008, larger than previous estimate of $305 billion. Remittances grew rapidly during 2007 and 2008, but have slowed down in many corridors since the last quarter of 2008. In line with a recent downward revision in the World Bank's forecast of global economic growth, also lowered forecasts for remittance flows to developing countries to -7.3 percent in 2009 from the earlier forecast of -5 percent. Flows to Latin America have been falling in a lagged response to the construction sector slowdown in the US, but there are emerging signs of a bottoming out. In contrast, flows to South Asia and East Asia have been strong; but there is risk of a slowdown going forward. The predicted decline in remittances is far smaller than that for private flows to developing countries. The resilience of remittances arises from the fact that while new migration flows have declined, the stock of migrants has been relatively unaffected by the crisis. Sources of risk to this outlook include uncertainty about the depth and duration of the current crisis, unpredictable movements in exchange rates, and the possibility that immigration controls may be tightened further in major destination countries.
  • Publication
    Revised Outlook for Remittance Flows 2009‐2011 : Remittances Expected to Fall by 5 to 8 Percent in 2009
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-03) Ratha, Dilip
    The authors have revised forecasts for remittance flows in the light of a downward revision to the World Bank's global economic outlook. The authors now expect a sharper decline of 5-8 percent in 2009 compared to earlier projections outlined in migration and development brief 8 (report no. 46715). This decline in nominal dollar terms is small relative to the projected fall in private capital flows or official aid to developing countries. However, considering that officially recorded remittances registered double-digit annual growth in the past few years to reach an estimated $305 billion in 2008, an outright fall in the level of remittance flows as projected now will cause hardships in many poor countries.
  • Publication
    Outlook for Remittance Flows 2008-2010 : Growth Expected to Moderate Significantly, But Flows to Remain Resilient
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-11) Ratha, Dilip; Xu, Zhimei
    The outlook for remittances for the rest of 2008 and 2009-10 remains as uncertain as the outlook for global growth, oil and non-oil commodity prices, and currency exchange rates. In the past, remittances have been noted to be stable or even counter-cyclical, during an economic downturn in the recipient economy, and resilient in the face of a slowdown in the source country. This time, however, the crisis has affected all countries, creating additional uncertainties.
  • Publication
    Revisions to remittance trends 2007
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-07) Ratha, Dilip; Vijayalakshmi, K. M.; Xu, Zhimei
    Revised estimates show that remittance flows to developing countries were $251 billion in 2007, up 11 percent from 2006. This Brief discusses the slowdown in remittance flows to Mexico in the first part of 2008. Remittances to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala), and Asia (Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines) continue to grow robustly.
  • Publication
    Remittance Trends 2006
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-11) Mohapatra, Sanket; Ratha, Dilip; Xu, Zhimei
    In nominal dollar terms Latin America and the Caribbean region remains the largest recipient of (recorded) remittances 2006. However, as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) remittances are highest in the Middle East and North Africa region. Due to a lack of data, remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa are grossly underestimated. Recorded remittance flows have grown robustly in virtually every region, although most quickly in Europe and Central Asia and in East Asia and the Pacific. The doubling of recorded remittances over the past five years is a result of: (a) increased scrutiny of flows since the terrorist attacks of September 2001; (b) reduction in remittance costs and expanding networks in the remittance industry; (c) the depreciation of the U.S. dollar (which raises the value of remittances denominated in other currencies); and (d) growth in the migrant stock and incomes. Although the United States remains the largest single source of remittances, many remittance-receiving developing countries also have a significant number of migrants in countries in the Euro area. Since remittances receipts in developing countries are typically measured in US dollars, movement in the Euro-dollar exchange rates can have a significant valuation effects on remittance, even without accounting for the wealth effect when the Euro appreciates or depreciates in real terms relative to the dollar.