The World Bank estimates that around 625 billion USD travelled between one country to another through remittance channels in 2018. There has been a huge leap from 2017 where the amount of money remitted globally was 586 billion USD. Despite the tightening of immigration processes in many countries, the growth in remittance transfers is unstoppable.
For most people, sending remittances is just a sentimental act of providing for their loved ones. In many countries, remittance serves as a lifeline outranking the amount that the country receives from both tourism and national exports combined. The money sent back home not only put food on their plates but also generate jobs, build roads, bridges and overall economic development. Data on International Remittance have also shown a positive impact on education, healthcare, and entrepreneurship.
Currently topping the countries with the highest amount of remittances received, there’s no doubt that India is a remittance powerhouse.
In 2018, the country recorded a remittance inflow of around 79 billion USD. This was a whopping 20 percent increase from 2017 where it received around 65.3 billion USD. This is the third consecutive year that India topped the list of countries with the highest money transfers received.
So where do Indians go to work abroad? In a survey published by the Economic Times, professionals in the country would like to go to the following places: Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States. No longer driven only by better pay, they put also premium a now on better career opportunities, opportunity to experience other cultures and steady work-life balance.
In addition, the new breed of Indian expat workers sees the overseas job placement as a temporary measure. According to a report by InterNations, around 39 percent of Indian expats are more than likely to return, which is eight percent higher than the global average with the same response.
Another country that greatly benefited from numerous opportunities outside of its borders, China’s massive migrant workforce contributed 67 billion USD to its national coffers. According to the United Nations International Organization for Migration, there are 10 million Chinese diasporic workers all over the world.
Thanks to the country’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as offshore gaming operations, the numbers of Chinese expat workers have swollen. In Africa alone, there are more than 200,000 workers in special economic zones whose main industry is construction.
According to United Nations data, the 10 million-strong Chinese workers are in developed areas. Some of the most common destinations for them are Hong Kong, Singapore, United States, Australia, and Canada. However, China still remained as one of the countries with a low ratio of migrant workers, with less than one percent of its 1.42-billion population stationed outside the country.
For quite some time now, the Philippines has taken advantage of the money transfers sent home by its overseas workers. Thanks to its high remittance-to-GDP ratio, it was able to withstand the financial crises that hit the Asian market in 1997 and 2007.
With more than 10 million Filipinos working abroad, the country received a total of 34 billion USD or around 3,400 USD from every migrant worker on average. This accounted for flat 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Subsequently, the huge amount sent by overseas Filipino workers further boost the private consumption of individuals within the country.
So where do Filipinos go to work abroad? Like before, 60 percent of overseas workers from the Philippines go to Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait for opportunities. Meanwhile, the next best destinations for them are Asian countries like Singapore and Hong Kong.
Another remittance powerhouse on the list is the North American country with 36 billion USD in total money transfers for 2018. The country has come a long way since 1995 where it was just posting around 4 billion USD.
Mexican migrant workers stationed in the United States were fuelling a steady rise in remittance inflow, it was abruptly halted with the decline of workers when the construction and housing industry declined in 2007. Further, with the global financial crisis hitting all sectors of the economy, the total remittance amount was in decline until 2012.
In 2018, around 108 million transactions were conducted by Mexican migrant workers—and 95 percent of them came originated from the United States. These International money transfers, in turn, made remittance a more lucrative source of income for the Mexican economy, which has already overtaken revenue from the state-owned petroleum company Pemex.
As one of the largest labour-sending countries in the South Asian region, there’s no doubt that Pakistani workers are sending a substantial amount of money to their families back home. Based on the most recent statistics, almost 16.96 billion USD was transferred by migrant Pakistanis to their home country just in 2018.
So where do workers from Pakistan go to find employment outside of their country? To say that the Gulf countries are the most common destination for Pakistanis is an understatement. Currently, 96 percent of its eight million migrant workforces seek employment in the Middle East. Saudi and United Arab Emirates remain as the top destination for its labourers.
While most of its remittance inflow comes from Gulf countries, other destinations for Pakistan’s overseas workers include the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Australia. This year, Pakistan is aiming to break the 20 billion-USD barrier by offering “incentive package to overseas workers to attract more money through official banking channels,” according to reports.
The numbers are compelling. Many countries like Egypt, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Yemen, South Sudan, and Indonesia are also highly dependent on remittances. For over 31 countries around the world, remittances provide more than 10% of the total GDP. Many studies find that remittances positively impact economic growth by providing an alternative way to finance investment and helping to overcome liquidity constraints, especially in developing countries.
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