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Remittances, transaction costs, and informality


  • Freund, Caroline
  • Spatafora, Nikola


Recorded workers' remittances to developing countries reached $167Â billion in 2005, bringing increasing attention to these flows as a potential tool for development. In this paper, we explore the determinants of remittances and their associated transaction costs. We find that recorded remittances depend positively on the stock of migrants and negatively on transfer costs and exchange rate restrictions. In turn, transfer costs are lower when financial systems are more developed and exchange rates less volatile. The negative impact of transactions costs on remittances suggests that migrants either refrain from sending money home or else remit through informal channels when costs are high. We provide evidence from household surveys supportive of a sizeable informal sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Freund, Caroline & Spatafora, Nikola, 2008. "Remittances, transaction costs, and informality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 356-366, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:86:y:2008:i:2:p:356-366

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Freund, Caroline & Spatafora, Nikola, 2005. "Remittances : transaction costs, determinants, and informal flows," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3704, The World Bank.
    2. Dean Yang, 2008. "International Migration, Remittances and Household Investment: Evidence from Philippine Migrants’ Exchange Rate Shocks," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(528), pages 591-630, April.
    3. Riccardo Faini, 2006. "Remittances and the brain drain," Development Working Papers 214, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
    4. Mr. Serdar Sayan, 2006. "Business Cycles and Workers' Remittances: How Do Migrant Workers Respond to Cyclical Movements of GDP At Home?," IMF Working Papers 2006/052, International Monetary Fund.
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