Global remittances — funds sent from migrant workers to their home countries — were recorded at $318 billion in 2007. There are approximately 200 million migrants worldwide, many of whom send money back to their families to cover immediate needs of food, shelter and education. Remittances cushion the backbone of local economies, particularly in smaller countries like El Salvador, where 17 percent of the country’s gross domestic product can be traced back to the one million Salvadorans working in U.S.
Remittances also play a role in easing poverty and reconfiguring social norms in recipient countries. In the Philippines, eight million migrant workers are celebrated patriots back home, where their monies provide a crutch to the economy. In their absence, the Filipino government works to protect migrant rights against exploitation overseas. At home, the cycle continues and former migrant grandparents rear their grandchildren.
There is speculation that a downturn in the U.S. economy could diminish the cash flows migrant workers send home. While Mexico reins in the bulk of U.S. remittances with over $25 billion in 2007, a recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank found that during the first half of 2007, remittances from the U.S. to Mexico remained relatively flat, whereas they had climbed 20 percent over the same period the previous year.
The charts below illustrate the top remittance recipients. Monies are sourced from the U.S. and on the basis of remittances received from around the world. For example, India tops the global remittance recipient list with $27 billion sent home, but only a third stems from the U.S., while other flows come from various countries in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, Canada, as well as neighboring countries.
Remittances from the United States: Top 15 Recipient Countries in U.S. Dollars (2007)
Sources: Manuel Orozco, Estimating Global Remittance Flows: A Methodology, 2007 and International Fund for Agricultural Development, Sending Money Home: Worldwide Remittance Flows to Developing and Transition Countries, 2007.
Remittances from Around the World: Top 15 Recipient Countries in U.S. Dollars (2007)
Sources: World Bank, Migration and Remittances Factbook, 2007.