May 23, 2018
Globally, remittances reached $613 billion in 2017. After two consecutive years of decline, remittance flows rebounded in all regions in 2017: in Europe & Central Asia by 20.9%, in sub-Saharan Africa by 11.4%, in the Middle East & North Africa by 9.3%, in Latin America & the Caribbean by 8.7%, in East Asia & the Pacific by 5.8%, and in South Asia by 5.8%. The rebound of remittance flows is driven by economic growth in the EU, the Russian Federation, and the US, alongside a firming up of oil prices and (the valuation effects of) a strengthening of the euro and the ruble against the US dollar.
After two consecutive years of decline, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) increased by an estimated 8.5% in 2017 to reach $466 billion, a new record. Remittances are now more than three times the size of official development assistance.
Excluding China, remittance flows are also significantly larger than foreign direct investment (FDI) in LMICs. Remittances are relatively more stable than cyclical private debt and equity flows.
Remittances were larger than expected in Europe & Central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East & North Africa, driven by a cyclical economic upturn observed in Europe, the Russian Federation, and the United States, and related to exchange rate movements.