Migration and Development Brief

Dilip Ratha, Supriyo De, Sonia Plaza, Kirsten Schuettler, William Shaw, Hanspeter Wyss, Soonhwa Yi

Thematic Working Groups
Data and Demographics
Remittances and Diaspora Resources
East Asia and Pacific
Europe and Central Asia
Latin America and the Caribbean
Middle East and North Africa
North America
South Asia
The World Region
  • Remittance trends. The growth rate of remittances to developing countries is estimated to have fallen from 3.2 percent in 2014 to 0.4 percent in 2015. The slowdown in grow is largely due to economic weakness in the major remittance-sending countries. Weak oil prices and currencies in many remittance-source countries, especially Russia, further depressed remittance flows in U.S. dollar terms. Remittances to developing countries are expected to rise by around 4 percent a year in 2016–17. A major downside risk to this forecast is the potential for a decline in outward remittances from Gulf Cooperation Council countries due to continuing weakness in the price of oil. Also, the continued widening of black market premia and imposition of capital controls could limit formal remittance inflows in some countries.
  • Remittance costs. The global average cost of sending $200 was about 7.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, down slightly from the previous quarter and 0.6 percentage points below the end of 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa, with an average cost of 9.5 percent, remains the highest-cost region.
  • The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The recently approved SDGs include ensuring safe, orderly, and regular migration; limiting exploitation and abuse of migrants; reducing the costs of recruitment and remittances; and improving data.
  • The refugee crises worldwide. The conflict in Syria has increased the number of refugees in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and more recently in Europe. In Europe, a lack of consensus on burden sharing has prompted many countries to tighten border controls within the EU, threatening the Schengen free-mobility arrangement for EU nationals. Of particular concern is the fact that some 36 percent of recent refugees in Europe are children. While the spotlight is on Europe, new refugee movements are also taking place in other parts of the world.
  • Migration and remittances help cope with natural disasters and epidemics. The diaspora has assisted people affected by disasters by sending more money home. However, remittances may also fall if the disaster disrupts the money-transfer infrastructure. While climate change is likely to result in increased frequency and severity of weather-related disasters, the international community currently lacks a legal and institutional framework to cope with the resulting migration from the affected areas.