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What explains the cost of remittances ? an examination across 119 country corridors

  • Beck, Thorsten
  • Peria, Maria Soledad Martinez

Remittances are a sizeable source of external financing for developing countries. In the L’Aquila 2009 G8 Summit, leaders pledged to reduce the cost of remittances by half in 5 years (from 10 to 5 percent). Yet, empirically, little is known about what drives the cost of remittances. Using newly gathered data across 119 country corridors, this paper explores the factors that determine the cost of remittances. Considering average costs across all types of institutions, the authors find that corridors with larger numbers of migrants and more competition among remittances service providers exhibit lower costs. By contrast, remittance costs are higher in richer corridors and in corridors with greater bank participation in the remittances market. Comparing results across all banks and all money transfer operators separately, the analysis finds few significant differences. However, estimations for Western Union, a leading player in the remittances business, suggest that this firm’s prices are insensitive to competition.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5072.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5072
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  1. Woodruff, Christopher & Zenteno, Rene, 2007. "Migration networks and microenterprises in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 509-528, March.
  2. José Ernesto López-Córdova, 2006. "Globalization, migration and development : the role of Mexican migrant remittances," INTAL Working Papers 1440, Inter-American Development Bank, INTAL.
  3. Edwards, Alejandra Cox & Ureta, Manuelita, 2003. "International migration, remittances, and schooling: evidence from El Salvador," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 429-461, December.
  4. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad, 2007. "Reaching out: Access to and use of banking services across countries," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 234-266, July.
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  7. Stijn Claessens & Luc Laeven, 2004. "What drives bank competition? Some international evidence," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, pages 563-592.
  8. Hildebrandt, Nicole & McKenzie, David, 2005. "The effects of migration on child health in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3573, The World Bank.
  9. Yeyati, Eduardo Levy & Micco, Alejandro, 2007. "Concentration and foreign penetration in Latin American banking sectors: Impact on competition and risk," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1633-1647, June.
  10. Gaston Gelos & Jorge Roldos, 2002. "Consolidation and Market Structure in Emerging Market Banking Systems," IMF Working Papers 02/186, International Monetary Fund.
  11. Samuel Munzele Maimbo & Dilip Ratha, 2005. "Remittances: Development Impact and Future Prospects," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7339.
  12. John Gibson & David McKenzie & Halahingano Rohorua, 2006. "How Cost Elastic are Remittances? Estimates from Tongan Migrants in New Zealand," Working Papers in Economics 06/02, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  13. Yang, Dean, 2005. "International migration, human capital, and entrepreneurship : evidence from Philippine migrants'exchange rate shocks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3578, The World Bank.
  14. J.A. Bikker & K. Haaf, 2001. "Competition, Concentration and their Relationship: an EmpiricalAnalysis of the Banking Industry," DNB Staff Reports (discontinued) 68, Netherlands Central Bank.
  15. Alejandra Cox Edwards & Manuelita Ureta, 2003. "International Migration, Remittances, and Schooling: Evidence from El Salvador," NBER Working Papers 9766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Taylor, J. Edward & Mora, Jorge & Adams, Richard H., Jr., 2005. "Remittances, Inequality and Poverty: Evidence from Rural Mexico," 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI 19245, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  17. Freund, Caroline & Spatafora, Nikola, 2005. "Remittances : transaction costs, determinants, and informal flows," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3704, The World Bank.
  18. Aggarwal, Reena & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad, 2006. "Do workers'remittances promote financial development ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3957, The World Bank.
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