Thinking Aloud: “Migration and Remittances: Recent Developments and Outlook”

Apr. 16, 2015 by Darius

Earlier this week, the World Bank released its 2015 brief “Migration and Remittances: Recent Developments and Outlook.”  I’ve summarized a few of the report’s most pertinent findings.

  • The total number of international migrants was revised upward sharply, bringing the most-recent estimate to 247 million international migrants in 2013, the latest year for which the data are available. The number of international migrants is expected to pass 250 million this year.  (To put that in context, if international migrants were a single country, they’d be the world’s 5th most populous, just ahead of Brazil.)
  • Total remittances sent by these migrants amounted to $436 billion. Put another way, if these remittances were a country, that country would have a GDP slightly smaller than Venezuela’s.
  • The top five destination countries for international migrants were the US, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, and the UAE. These were unchanged from previous years.
  • Not surprisingly, countries with large populations of migrants retained their status as the largest recipients of remittances. India, China, the Philippines, and Mexico receive the most remittance money of any country.  However, countries with small populations but large numbers of international migrants (generally those geographically close to a large economy) receive the most remittances as a percentage of total GDP.  Leading the list is Tajikistan, which receives 49% of its GDP as remittances, mainly from migrants in Russia.
  • The average global cost of sending money, about 8%, remains unchanged. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest cost of sending money, reaching 12%.
  • Remittances, by this measure, are expected to grow much more slowly in 2015. This is mainly due to low oil prices, which have depressed Russia’s economy, and a strong dollar, which shrinks the value of remittances sent in euros and other currencies.  For example, the ruble value of remittances to Tajikistan actually grew by 7% in one quarter of 2014, but the dollar value of the same remittances fell nearly 25% because of the ruble’s fall against the dollar.

You can read the whole report at

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