News / Economy

Remittances High on Radar of World Economists

Remittances High on Radar of World Economistsi
X
Laurel Bowman
June 10, 2014 8:48 PM
Many migrants send small amounts of money - called "remittances" - home to friends and family members. But with 200 million international migrants out there, those small sums add up quickly. In 2013, migrants around the world sent back $400 billion, far outweighing official aid to many countries and sometimes providing the largest source of foreign exchange. This has economists wondering - can remittances boost not just a receiving family’s budget but their country's economy too? VOA's Laurel Bowman has more.
Laurel Bowman
Many migrants send small amounts of money - called "remittances" - home to friends and family members. But with 200 million international migrants out there, those small sums add up quickly.

In 2013, migrants around the world sent back $400 billion, far outweighing official aid to many countries and sometimes providing the largest source of foreign exchange.  This has economists wondering - can remittances boost not just a receiving family’s budget but that country’s economy too?

When Jean Claude Kazadi and his wife Myriam came to the U.S. from the Democratic Republic of Congo they immediately began sending money home.  They wanted to help family members left behind.
 
“That is the way we grew up.  We believe in supporting each other.  We believe in supporting our parents, specifically, and we believe in supporting our brothers and sisters.”
 
Jean Claude is a doctor who works on HIV Aids for Catholic Relief Services in Maryland.  He frequently visits Congo, and says he hopes he is helping his fellow Africans through his work.  But he knows that the $400 a month he sends home to his parents are a lifeline.
 
“If we don’t do something, do you think the government will actually do something to support my parents? They will not. They don’t care about it.”
 
Economist Adolfo Barajas of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been studying remittance trends for a decade, watching how they affect receiving economies. 
 
“They have been growing tremendously from 1990 to 2010; they grew more than sevenfold,” says he.
 
Barajas says massive migration drives the trend, but notes a possible downside - that governments may be less efficient if they are receiving large windfalls of cash.
 
Economists have long said that remittances generally strengthen the families who receive them, by boosting their income.  But some are concerned that all this cash can cause a nation’s currency to appreciate, bidding up prices and making that country less competitive when it comes to, for example, exporting goods.
 
But economists, including Barajas, agree remittances affect a receiving country’s economy in many positive ways.  Dilip Ratha, is a remittance expert with the World Bank. 
 
“They provide incomes, they are a lifeline for people, they reduce poverty, they provide funding for business investment, human capital investments, education, health,” says Ratha.
 
Economists say that when countries are in conflict, like Jean Claude and Myriam’s  Democratic Republic of Congo, private investors tend to sneak out, while remitters rush in.
 
"Because that is precisely when the needs of the families left behind increase.  And to meet those needs, migrants send money home,” says Ratha.

For Myriam and Jean Claude Kazadi, it’s about showing their parents they have not forgotten them, even though they live so far away.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9220
JPY
USD
119.88
GBP
USD
0.6757
CAD
USD
1.2640
INR
USD
62.626

Rates may not be current.