Migration and Remittance Data Update: Remittances to low- and middle-income countries on track to reach $551 billion in 2019 and $597 billion by 2021


Remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are expected to reach $551 billion in 2019, up by 4.7 percent compared to 2018. Remittances have exceeded official aid – by a factor of three – since the mid-1990s. This year, they are on track to overtake foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to LMICs. In 2019, in current U.S. dollar terms, the top five remittance recipient countries are projected to be India, China, Mexico, the Philippines, and Egypt.  As a share of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2019, the top five recipients would be smaller economies: Tonga, Haiti, Nepal, Tajikistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic.

Growth of remittance flows slowed to 4.7 percent in 2019 compared to a robust 8.6 percent in 2018. Cyclical factors affecting the growth of remittance flows include (a) economic growth in source countries, (b) the price ofoil, and (c) variations in exchange rates. For example, a strong economy and employment situation in the United States implies buoyant remittance flows to Latin America and the Caribbean. Conversely, weak oil prices imply lower growth in outward remittances from the Russian Federation to Central Asian and Eastern European countries.

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