Secretary Hillary Clinton is hosting the second Global Diaspora Forum tomorrow (on July 25th and 26th), in an emphatic recognition of the importance of the diasporas in fostering America's diplomatic and financial relationships with their countries of origin. (The size of diasporas in the US is anecdotally mentioned to be somewhere between 60 to 70 million - we don't know for sure and even worse, we don't yet have a consensus on the definition of diasporas.) To make the event accessible beyond the beltway, many sessions including the Secretary’s remarks will be livestreamed on state.gov. Also some parallel diaspora events are taking place at the same time - for example, a Tedx style event is hosted at the University of Minnesota. I understand that key State Department colleagues involved in the diaspora forum have reached out to Canada, the UK and the EU seeking collaboration on diaspora and development issues. Bravo!
Migration and Remittances during the Global Economic Crisis and Beyond is a new book published by the Bank (edited by Sirkeci, Cohen and Ratha - see here). Alongside the main argument that remittances are largely proven to be resilient during the crisis, it reveals few more insights and poses a more questions than it answers. A decline in remittances and migration flows around world was expected at the beginning of the crisis. The dynamics and determinants of why and how remittances sent and used is also of concern. The book is a first step to answer these questions while also bringing academics and practitioners together across disciplines compiling the volume covering 7 regions and 25 country studies. The focus is on those countries with significant remittance inflows and established migration histories. Therefore South Asian countries and some smaller nations receive more attention.
The fears that the economic crisis of 2008 would lead to a decline in remittances and the returns of migrants to their sending countries were largely unfounded. Our volume reveals that while remittances declined following the crisis, they have largely recovered. Three trends that characterize remittances practices globally are:
- More diversified destinations and labor markets lead to more resilient remittances for migrants
- Lower barriers to labor mobility in receiving countries lead to remittances that are larger and critical to the economic health of migrant households.
- Remittance-dependent countries rely on remittance inflows for external financial needs.
These common sense findings are obscured by the myths that surround remittance practices, including:
In the May 2012 edition of the East Asia and Pacific economic update, I wrote that labor migration across East Asia will require more urgent attention from policy makers very soon given the large labor force declines that some countries will face in the next 40 years.
The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) launched its 2011 Global Trends report on refugees, stateless persons and internally displaced persons shortly in advance of World Refugee Day on July 20. Bearing the subtitle of a "year of crises", the report documents that conflicts in Africa contributed to the emergence of over 800,000 refugees last year. This is the highest number in over ten years.
The Bank has just published a new book (edited by Sirkeci, Cohen and Ratha - see here) that documents the impacts of the recent financial crisis on migration and remittance flows. A common story line emerging from a number of regional and country specific experiences is the remarkable resilience of remittance flows during the crisis. Beyond this observation, the book highlights variations in factors affecting migration and remittance patterns during the crisis and suggests a number of hypotheses for future research. The book is certainly not the last word on the topic of crisis impacts, but it marks an early stock taking of this evolving topic.
In a new working paper published in the World Bank Working Paper Series, John Gibson, David McKenzie, and I look at exactly this question.
While much of migration policy has been focused on reducing costs of remittances and introducing new and inexpensive transmission channels, relatively little attention has been paid to educating customers on such benefits. After all, this could be pretty low hanging fruit – tell migrants about a cheaper way of remitting and they will switch.
With this thought in mind, we designed an information dissemination experiment for migrant workers in both Australia and New Zealand who had migrated from the Pacific Islands, East Asia, and Sri Lanka.
As international migration and migrant remittances have increased in recent years, there is a clear need for improved data on international migration and migrant remittances to understand the effects that various policies can have on migrants and migrant households. In a new paper, we argue that large, multi-purpose data collection efforts present good opportunities to study migration in a cost-effective manner. Many countries now implement nationally representative, multi-topic household surveys à la Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) surveys, primarily for the purposes of welfare monitoring and analysis. Although LSMS survey questionnaires are designed to study numerous aspects of household welfare and behavior, collecting detailed migration information has not been a priority for most multi-topic household surveys, resulting in large knowledge gaps on migration. Integrating migration information into these data collection efforts can be an efficient way to collect migration data.
Economists usually enjoy working on economic data and writing up reports. But Sudharshan Canagarajah also likes giving conventional economic thinking a nudge — in this case, on migration.
As the World Bank’s Lead Economist for Tajikistan, Sudharshan noticed that Tajiks were on the move. In response to the country’s various crises, they sought new opportunities, mainly in Russia. They had no support from government, and little attention from donors, but the money they sent home created a huge economic impact.
In a surprising move, the Government of the Gambia through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, in January 2012 convened the first “Consultative Meeting between the Government of the Republic of The Gambia and Gambians in the Diaspora”. According to a press release from the Office of the Gambian President, the main objective of the Consultative Meeting is to harness the potentials and talents of Gambians in the Diaspora, including those serving in International Organizations and others engaged in private ventures, which can be beneficial to the country. The release further indicated, “the meeting will facilitate the evaluation of the extent to which latent potential residing in Diaspora nationals, could be utilized to the fullest in support of Vision 2020 goals and objectives”.
Today marks an important date: The Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KP) begins its inception phase today. With seed funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the KP will be a global public good, multidisciplinary, a process of synthesizing existing knowledge and creating knowledge where necessary, all with the purpose of creating a menu of policy options for policy makers (see consultation draft). The policy recommendations will be designed with careful analysis of facts and evidence. Methodologies will be closely scrutinized by peer reviewers. A 9 month inception phase will end in January 2013, and the KP will enter implementation phase in February 2013. By then, a secretariat would have been established, an Advisory Board formed, and at least 5 thematic working groups would have been identified.
“More and better jobs” is a goal for many policymakers around the world (along with part of the title for a recent World Bank South Asia flagship report on employment). How to create “good jobs” is a key question that the next World Development Report is also expected to help answer.
The United States is perhaps the largest destination country for international migrants, and is by far the largest source country for international remittances (see our Factbook and a recent CBO report on remittances). The US Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that outward remittance flows from the US amounted to $51.6 billion in 2010 (see table 1). So far the BEA has published remittance data for the first three quarters of 2011. What could be the estimate for the fourth quarter 2011 and by implication the annual figure for 2011?