We have blogged about migrant remittances in the past, from an economic point of view.
The New York Times magazine (for members) includes this week an excellent article on remittances that looks at the personal stories behind migration and at its costs and benefits. Jason DeParle's article focuses on the Philippines, a country with 10 percent of its population living abroad and where remittances make up 14 percent of its GDP.
With about one Filipino worker in seven abroad at any given time, migration is to the Philippines what cars once were to Detroit: its civil religion. A million Overseas Filipino Workers — O.F.W.’s — left last year, enough to fill six 747s a day. Nearly half the country’s 10-to-12-year-olds say they have thought about whether to go. Television novellas plumb the migrants’ loneliness. Politicians court their votes. Real estate salesmen bury them in condominium brochures. Drive by the Central Bank during the holiday season, and you will find a high-rise graph of the year’s remittances strung up in Christmas lights.
Across the archipelago, stories of rags to riches compete with stories of rags to rags. New malls define the landscape; so do left-behind kids. Gain and loss are so thoroughly joined that the logo of the migrant welfare agency shows the sun doing battle with the rain. Local idiom stresses the uncertainty of the migrant’s lot. An O.F.W. does not say he is off to make his fortune. He says, “I am going to try my luck.
More information on remittances at the World Bank website.