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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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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Outlook for Remittance Flows 2009-2011 : Remittances Expected to Fall by 7-10 Percent in 2009

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.

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Managing Migration : Lessons from the Philippines

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.

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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.

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Revised Outlook for Remittance Flows 2009‐2011 : Remittances Expected to Fall by 5 to 8 Percent in 2009

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.

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Migration and Remittance Trends 2009 : A Better-Than-Expected Outcome So Far, But Significant Risks Ahead

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.

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Outlook for Remittance Flows 2008-2010 : Growth Expected to Moderate Significantly, But Flows to Remain Resilient

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.