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Accelerated remittances growth to low- and middle-income countries in 2018

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On the back of stronger growth in remittance-sending economies, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries are expected to reach a new record of $528 billion in 2018, an increase of 10.8 percent from last year, according to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief released today.
The latest data shows remittances growth in all regions, led by Europe and Central Asia (20 percent) and South Asia (14 percent). Top remittance-receiving countries are India ($80 billion), China ($67 billion), Mexico and the Philippines ($34 billion each), and Egypt ($26 billion).
The growth in remittances is stronger than expected due to recent economic developments: an improved job market in the United States and a rebound in remittance outflows from some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation.
With projected moderate global growth and more restrictive immigration policies in some major remittance-sending countries, remittances to low- and middle-income countries are projected to grow more slowly, by 4 percent to reach $549 billion in 2019.
The Brief also publishes progress on the global average cost of sending remittances, drawing on the Remittance Prices Worldwide Database. The data shows that this cost has remained nearly stagnant at 6.9 percent, more than double the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of 3 percent. Main contributing factors to the high costs are de-risking practices by commercial banks, which lead to closure of bank accounts for remittance service providers. Exclusive partnerships between national post office systems and any single money transfer operator also keep fees high, as they allow the operator to charge higher fees to poorer customers dependent on post offices.
Reducing remittance costs to 3 percent by 2030 is a global target under SDG 10.7 for promoting safe, orderly, and regular migration. Increasing the volume of remittances is also a global goal under the proposals for raising financing for the SDGs.
The Brief also monitors progress toward reducing recruitment costs borne by employees, which tend to be higher for low-skilled migrant workers. Besides lowering workers’ actual received incomes, high recruitment costs can be a huge drain on remittance flows. Sometimes, recruitment costs amount to more than 2 years of a migrant worker’s income. Reducing recruitment costs by improving recruitment practices can significantly increase remittance flows to poor families. SDG indicator 10.7.1, which is focused on reducing the recruitment costs borne by employees, was upgraded to a tier-2 indicator, following the submission of guidelines prepared jointly by the KNOMAD and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Read our detailed global and regional analysis in the latest Migration and Development Brief available at

Related Links: Press Release, Data on Remittance Inflows, Data on Remittance Outflows


Dilip Ratha

Lead Economist and Economic Adviser to the Vice President of Operations, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Bank

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