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Migration and Remittances during the Global Economic Crisis and Beyond: Myths and Realities

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:

  1. More diversified destinations and labor markets lead to more resilient remittances for migrants
  2. Lower barriers to labor mobility in receiving countries lead to remittances that are larger and critical to the economic health of migrant households.
  3. 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:

UNHCR launches update on a year of crises

Bryce Quillin's picture

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.

China's Labor Challenges

Cai Fang's picture

For China, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, a huge challenge is balancing growth between the booming coastal areas and the inland areas. We spoke about this and China's labor market with Cai Fang, one of China's most influential economists. Fang describes how efforts to balance growth are affecting China's huge migrant worker population, which typically lacks the formal employment contracts enjoyed by urban workers.

Migration and remittances during the crisis and beyond: A new book

Dilip Ratha's picture

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.

Can Financial Literacy Help Migrants Save on Remittance Costs?

Bilal Zia's picture

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. 

Measuring Migration in Multi-Topic Household Surveys: A Worthwhile Opportunity

Alan de Brauw's picture

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. 

Migrants: An Economic Force in Tajikistan

David Lawrence's picture

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.
Migrants are putting food on the table in Tajikistan. (Credit: Sugarmelon, Flickr Creative Commons)

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.

Migration, Remittances, and Economic Growth: The Case of the Gambia

C. Omar Kebbeh's picture

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”.