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Migration, Remittances and Diaspora Data: Need for International Cooperation

Sonia Plaza's picture
In observance of the International Migrants Day, Dec 18

Despite that several countries have made a call of action for enhancing data collection and capacity building of the national statistical systems to improve migration data, there has not been much progress. The High Level on International Migration in 2013 “emphasized the need for reliable statistical data on international migration, including when possible on the contributions of migrants to development in both origin and destination countries.”

Visualizing Global Remittances – Big Data Mapping of Bilateral Flows

Dan Ewing's picture

Global flows of cross-border remittances exceed $500 billion in money transfers across a dizzying array of bilateral corridors. With over 200 countries, send-receive combinations exceed forty thousand. Moreover, the variables that drive these cross-border flows hinge on a multitude of factors from migration flows, economic growth, historical connections and more. In short, it’s an explosion of diversity that can be hard to fully comprehend and envision.

What central banks say about monitoring and regulating remittance markets

Dilip Ratha's picture

We have just published a working paper reporting on a global survey of central banks on how governments regulate and collect data on cross-border remittance flows.* During 2008-9, we sent questionnaires - an inflow module or an outflow module, depending on whether the country is largely migrant-sending or migrant-receiving - to 176 central banks and other national institutions involved in remittances. 114 institutions responded. 

These responses indicate that:

  • There is a need for more frequent and better coordinated data collection across national institutions, among different divisions within the same national institution, and among countries.
  • Countries should monitor (I mean, try to understand) new channels and technologies in monitoring remittance flows. Authorities should work closely with mobile phone operators to strike the right regulatory balance.
  • The high cost of transfers was cited in the survey as the top factor inhibiting the use of formal channels.
  • Many countries, particularly in Africa, have made progress in avoiding exclusivity contracts, which helps increase competitiveness and reduce transfer costs. But further policy reforms and initiatives are needed.

Monthly remittances data update

Ani Silwal's picture

Latin America and Caribbean:

  • Remittances to Mexico declined 35.8% y-o-y in October. Year-to-date decline is 16.5%.
  • Remittances to Colombia declined 19.5% y-o-y in October. Year-to-date decline is 17.5%.
  • Remittances to Dominican Rep. increased 0.5% y-o-y in September. Year-to-date decline is 2.2%.
  • Remittances to Nicaragua declined 2.4% y-o-y in October. Year-to-date decline is 6.3%.
  • Remittances to Jamaica declined 6.0% y-o-y in October. Year-to-date decline is 14.6%.

Event Announcement: New Global Forecast of Remittance Flows, July 13, 2009

Sonia Plaza's picture


The Migration and Remittances team of the Development Economics and Prospects Group (DECPG), World Bank will release new data on remittance flows on Monday, July 13, 2009 from 9:30 am-11:00 am, at the Preston Auditorium, World Bank Main Complex,1818 H Street NW, Washington DC. This session will be a part of the International Conference on Diaspora and Development. Dilip Ratha, Lead Economist (DECPG) will lead the presentation; Hans Timmer, Director (DECPG) will chair the session.
This event is open to the public. For more information including the agenda, venue, logistics, and contacts, please visit our conference website.

Finding ways to improve migration data

Ani Silwal's picture

A constant struggle facing researchers and policymakers tackling migration issues is a lack of good data. The Center for Global Development recently released “Five Steps Toward Better Migration Data,” an excellent report on concrete steps governments and non-governmental organizations can take in the short run to fill this gap. 

This report is particularly important in the context of a new round of census taking in 2010. The five recommendations are to: 

  1. Ask basic census questions and make the data publicly available; 
  2. Compile and release existing administrative data;
  3. Centralize labor force surveys; 
  4. Provide access to microdata, not just tabulations; and 
  5. Include migration modules on more existing household surveys.

Given the abundance of recommendations in the development industry, a laudable effort is the accompanying report card (PDF) which tracks countries’ progress with respect to the recommendations.

New monthly remittances data and live online discussion transcript now available

Dilip Ratha's picture

Yesterday's online discussion went very well; many excellent questions were asked, but I only had time to answer a select few.  I hope to answer the rest of the questions soon.  The transcript is now available online.

Also, we have shared an Excel file with monthly remittance flow data for the following countries on our team website

Remittances expected to fall by 5 to 8 percent in 2009

Dilip Ratha's picture

With Sanket

We have revised our forecasts for remittance flows to developing countries in the light of a downward revision to the World Bank’s global economic outlook (see our latest Migration and Development Brief 9). We now expect a sharper decline of 5 to 8 percent in 2009 (see figure 1 and table 1 below) compared to our earlier projections.

This decline in nominal dollar terms is small relative to the projected fall in private capital flows or official aid to developing countries. However, 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.

South-South remittances from Russia, South Africa, Malaysia and India are especially vulnerable to the rolling economic crisis. Also the outlook remains uncertain for remittance flows from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Both low-income and middle-income countries are expected to see a similar decline – about 5 percent – in remittance inflows in 2009. Although newspapers are reporting a large number of migrants returning home, new migration flows are still positive, implying that the stock of existing migrants continues to increase. The persistence of the migrant stock will contribute to the persistence (or resilience) of remittance flows in the face of the crisis. Box 1 below outlines the reasons for expecting remittances to remain resilient during the crisis.