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Why don't remittances appear to affect growth ?

  • Clemens, Michael A.
  • McKenzie, David

Although measured remittances by migrant workers have soared in recent years, macroeconomic studies have difficulty detecting their effect on economic growth. This paper reviews existing explanations for this puzzle and proposes three new ones. First, it offers evidence that a large majority of the recent rise in measured remittances may be illusory -- arising from changes in measurement, not changes in real financial flows. Second, it shows that even if these increases were correctly measured, cross-country regressions would have too little power to detect their effects on growth. Third, it points out that the greatest driver of rising remittances is rising migration, which has an opportunity cost to economic product at the origin. Net of that cost, there is little reason to expect large growth effects of remittances in the origin economy. Migration and remittances clearly have first-order effects on poverty at the origin, on the welfare of migrants and their families, and on global gross domestic product; but detecting their effects on growth of the origin economy is likely to remain elusive.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6856.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2014
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6856
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  1. Giulia Bettin & Andrea Presbitero & Nicola Spatafora, 2014. "Remittances and Vulnerability in Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 14/13, International Monetary Fund.
  2. John Gibson & David Mckenzie, 2010. "The Economic Consequences of ‘Brain Drain’ of the Best and Brightest: Microeconomic Evidence from Five Countries," Working Papers in Economics 10/05, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
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  4. Gibson, John & McKenzie, David, 2014. "Development through seasonal worker programs : the case of New Zealand's RSE program," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6762, The World Bank.
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  8. Simone Bertoli & Francesca Marchetta, 2014. "Migration, Remittances and Poverty in Ecuador," Post-Print halshs-01058134, HAL.
  9. Bollard, Albert & McKenzie, David & Morten, Melanie, 2010. "The remitting patterns of African migrants in the OECD," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5260, The World Bank.
  10. McKenzie, David & Theoharides, Caroline & Yang, Dean, 2012. "Distortions in the International Migrant Labor Market: Evidence from Filipino Migration and Wage Responses to Destination Country Economic Shocks," IZA Discussion Papers 6498, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Alberto Posso, 2012. "Remittances And Aggregate Labor Supply: Evidence From Sixty‐Six Developing Nations," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 50(1), pages 25-39, 03.
  12. Yan Sun & Udo Kock, 2011. "Remittances in Pakistan; Why have they gone up, and why Aren't they coming down?," IMF Working Papers 11/200, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Rao, B.Bhaskara & Hassan, Gazi, 2009. "A panel data analysis of the growth effects of remittances," MPRA Paper 18021, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Isabel Ruiz & Elias Shukralla & Carlos Vargas-Silva, 2009. "Remittances, Institutions and Growth: A Semiparametric Study," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 111-119.
  15. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2014. "The Development Impact of a Best Practice Seasonal Worker Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 229-243, May.
  16. Giuliano, Paola & Ruiz-Arranz, Marta, 2009. "Remittances, financial development, and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 144-152, September.
  17. David McKenzie & Steven Stillman & John Gibson, 2010. "How Important is Selection? Experimental VS. Non‐Experimental Measures of the Income Gains from Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 913-945, 06.
  18. Jadotte, Evans, 2009. "International Migration, Remittances and Labour Supply: The Case of the Republic of Haiti," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  19. Raju Jan Singh & Kyung-woo Lee & Markus Haacker, 2009. "Determinants and Macroeconomic Impact of Remittances in Sub-Saharan Africa," IMF Working Papers 09/216, International Monetary Fund.
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  22. Giulia Bettin & Alberto Zazzaro, 2012. "Remittances And Financial Development: Substitutes Or Complements In Economic Growth?," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 509-536, October.
  23. Jeffrey Frankel, 2011. "Are Bilateral Remittances Countercyclical?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 1-16, February.
  24. Michael Lokshin & Elena Glinskaya, 2009. "The Effect of Male Migration on Employment Patterns of Women in Nepal," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(3), pages 481-507, November.
  25. Acosta, Pablo A. & Lartey, Emmanuel K.K. & Mandelman, Federico S., 2009. "Remittances and the Dutch disease," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 102-116, September.
  26. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Cynthia Bansak & Susan Pozo, 2005. "On the remitting patterns of immigrants: evidence from Mexican survey data," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue Q 1, pages 37-58.
  27. Jonathan Temple, 1999. "The New Growth Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(1), pages 112-156, March.
  28. repec:pid:wpaper:2011:78 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Binzel, Christine & Assaad, Ragui, 2011. "Egyptian men working abroad: Labour supply responses by the women left behind," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(S1), pages S98-S114.
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