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August 5th, 2008
18 with a Bullet
Data: Migrant Workers Support Home Economies

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.

  • T.P.

    Having just watched Wide Angle’s presentation on “18 With a Bullet” on TV, I would like to comment on the poor production of this documentary. I usually enjoy Wide Angle, however there are serious flaws in this one hour documentary.
    1. Online headline includes “migrant workers, remittances”. The TV version fails to address this by lack of information. One mother is used as the only example and early on in the film her son says she does not support him. Financially or emotionally? Also, the only mention of “remittance” is a flow of billions of dollars from relatives in North America to Salvador. These two grey areas could have been much more expanded, more examples of families and the actual flow of money. How would you feel if you read a book with a single reference? Biased?
    2. Why not more from from the Salvador police and/or government? What about solutions, their point of view ,more on the current status quo and the legal sytem?
    3. Not one single MS13 (rival gang) member was interviewed. Why not? In order to gain a more complete picture, both sides must be considered. Why tell a story from one angle only?
    4. If gang members from “18” are operating worldwide, why not expand on this too and compare differences (if any) to Salvador?

    My disappointment goes to the director Mr. Ricardo Pollack for presenting a quarter of the vital information needed to understand this situation. Without bragging or sounding self-centered, I could have done a better job with the presentation and contents of this documentary in one to two hours tops. The morale of this comment is: If you paint a picture, make it complete and do not leave the viewer hanging with so many unanswered questions that it feels like most of the hour spent watching, has been wasted.

  • A Filipino, Who Cares…

    I agree with T.P., but perhaps next time, they can do a better job, but never the less, it was an eye opener…

  • Jr

    I actually thought this was a good program

  • nora

    this is a very good program

  • nullo

    cuando menos muetra algo para la reflexion y que las cosas en este sentido pueden ser peores realmente no solo en el Salvador, sino tambien en los paises vecinos.

  • Bullet

    Tell the truth! Eighteenth Street was the Unit to regulate all other Units, because of their foundation of equality amongst each other. All Barrios were shaped to be Police Officers but Florencia didn’t like it, so they made an attempted murder on the officer that was going to make it all happen, Joe, fiancee to the Chief of Police’s grand daughter. That Chief of Police had a heart attack and that’s how Darryl Gates got his power.

  • Jim tressor

    One would expect remittances to remain relatively stable because the money isn’t usually used for investments, but I guess unemployment is going to hurt just about everyone! Here is an interesting article on why remittances might fall in the next couple of years:

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