As jobs become fewer and income harder to come by for immigrants in developed countries, the amount of money they send back home, known as remittances, is expected to fall this year more than previously expected. The Bank's Migration and Remittances team announced the latest outlook last week on its People Move blog: "We now expect a sharper decline of 5-8 percent in 2009 ... compared to our earlier projections," wrote economist Dilip Ratha, who leads the team.
While the steepest drops in remittances are expected for Europe and Central Asia – down 10-12 percent – countries in the East Asia and Pacific region are also forecasted to fall by 4-7.5 percent in 2009. Two of the world's biggest recipients of remittances are China, which received $34 billion in 2008, and the Philippines, which saw $18 billion last year. Other big receipients in East Asia include Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, according to the Bank's Migration & Remittances Factbook 2008.
Ratha explains on his blog that the decline in remittance money will directly impact people in developing countries.
"Considering that officially recorded remittances registered double-digit annual growth in the past few years to reach an estimated $305 billion in 2008, an outright fall in the level of remittance flows as projected now will cause hardships in many poor countries."
If you're interested in the latest forecast by Dilip Ratha's team, he will be answering questions in a live online chat covering topics related to migration, remittances and development. You can submit questions in advance or during the chat on April 8 at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. (2 p.m. GMT). The World Bank also has a remittances database, which tracks the costs of such transactions between specific countries.