More Research on Remittances from the US

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/27/2011 12:01:00 AM
Despite its obviously more limited prospects for international workers at the current time, the United States remains the world's largest source of workers' remittances--especially to nearby Latin America. It is thus with no small interest that I've been flipping through this new Congressional Budget Office report Migrants' Remittances and Related Economic Flows. For those of you interested in migration in general or are into area studies, this should be worth a look.

What follows is the summary, though the rest is well worth reading if the subject matter catches your fancy:
Migrants to the United States often send money to people in their home country or take it with them when they return home. Those transfers can involve sending money through banks or other institutions to family members or others in the home country, making financial investments in the home country, or returning to the home country while retaining bank accounts or claims on other financial assets in the United States. All three types of actions are similar in their economic effects, even though only transfers of money through banks and other financial institutions to foreign individuals are commonly thought of as migrants' remittances.

As one of the most important destinations of global migration, the United States is the largest national source of remittances. The opportunity to send or bring remittances home is one of the important motivations for migration, and policies that affect migration to the United States could affect outflows of remittances. In turn, the flow of remittances can affect economic growth, labor markets, poverty rates, and future migration rates in the United States as well as in recipient countries.

This document updates and expands upon the Congressional Budget Office's previous analysis of remittances—Remittances: International Payments by Migrants (May 2005)—and presents data through 2009. The new presentation provides a better view of people's total transfers of money between the United States and other countries but, because of changes in the way the data are collected and reported, does not provide as much information as was previously available on the portion of those transfers that is attributable to migrants. (See "Notes and Definitions" at the beginning of the full document for a summary of terminology and the appendix for a discussion of recent changes in the classification of remittances.) The existing data on global remittances and related economic flows are not of very high quality, and the comparisons and trends reported here should be viewed only as approximations.
A constant theme among reports of this kind is that "data on migration and remittances are patchy." You would hope that nations can get together and figure out better ways to track movements of persons and their monies as globalization continues apace.