Migrant workers from Latin America and the Caribbean sent home $53.6bn to their families last year, an increase of 17% from 2004. The remittance are sent from the U.S, Canada, and other developed countries. This is according to a Financial Times report on an upcoming study by the Inter-American Development Bank. The study “confirms Latin America’s position as the biggest market in the world for remittances. For the third consecutive year, remittances to the region exceeded the combined flows of direct foreign investment and overseas economic aid.”
The FT report does not appear to distinquish between Latin Americans who have become citizens, those who are legal immigrants, and those who are illegal immigrants.
The FT goes on to report that
“The shift in international trade, investment and communications has required the world’s political and economic system to adapt new rules and mechanisms to meet modern realities,” said Donald Terry, head of the bank’s multilateral investment fund. “The same needs to be done for the migrant labourers who have become such an integral part of the world’s labour markets.”
An estimated 25m-27m Latin Americans are living and working abroad, 22m of them in the developed markets of North America, Europe and Japan. Migrant workers from the region now made up more than 20% of the labour force in Madrid, Spain’s capital. In the US, Latin American and Caribbean workers constitute an average of 12%of the labour force. Family by family, worker by worker, migrants are redrawing the map of global labour markets
Improvements in techniques used to monitor the flows of remittances in part accounted for the sharp rise last year. Many migrants continue to use informal channels, and the total could be more than $59bn.
Countries nearest the US have seen the biggest flows, with Mexico drawing some $20bn of foreign exchange earnings from remittances. The five countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic received $11bn.
Brazil got $6bn, Colombia $4bn and the four other Andean economies a total of $9bn. The bank is continuing its efforts to force down transmission costs of remittances, typically despatched in sums of between $100 and $300. Commission costs now amount to about 5% of the total, less than half the levels of five years ago.