The money workers send home to their families from abroad has become a critical part of many economies around the world. Based on the most recent data, remittances, as this money is called, will only grow in importance. Officially recorded remittances amounted to a record $529 billion in 2018, and are on track to reach $550 billion in 2019.
This money is flowing at about the same levels as foreign direct investment (FDI), but if China is excluded, they are the largest source of foreign exchange earnings in low- and middle-income countries, according to Migration and Remittances Brief 31, published by the World Bank Group and KNOMAD, the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development. In other words, if China is excluded from the analysis, remittances have already overtaken FDI as the biggest source of external financing.
Today, remittances equal or surpass 25% of GDP in five countries: Tonga, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Haiti, and Nepal.