Remittances during COVID-19: Reduce costs to save livelihoods

By Paul Horrocks, Manager, Private Finance for Sustainable Development; Friederike Rühmann, Policy Analyst; and Sai Aashirvad Konda, Consultant at the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


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Mumbai, India – Migrant workers return home during a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, on May 2020. Photo: Manoej Paateel / Shutterstock

The COVID-19 crisis is severely affecting migrants’ ability to send money home to their families.

The World Bank predicts a decline in global remittances by about 20 percent in 2020 due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This decline threatens the livelihoods of millions of households in developing countries, and the international community must urgently invest in innovative, resilient, and cost-reducing solutions to support developing countries amid the crisis and in their recovery.

Impact of COVID-19 on remittances

Remittances serve as an important source of income for millions of households in developing countries and act as a safety net in times of emergencies, natural disasters and crises. In 2019, the flow of remittances reached a record flow of $554 billion to low-and middle-income countries. Continue reading

COVID-19 : conséquences pour les migrations internationales et le développement

Par Jason Gagnon, Économiste du développement, Centre de développement de l’OCDE


Ce blog fait partie d’une série sur la lutte contre le COVID-19 dans les pays en voie de développement. Visitez la page dédiée de l’OCDE pour accéder aux données, analyses et recommandations de l’OCDE sur les impacts sanitaires, économiques, financiers et sociétaux de COVID-19 dans le monde.


Immigration-coronavirus

(Read this blog in English)

Bien que la pandémie de COVID-19 ne soit pas un problème de migration, elle est perçue et gérée comme tel. Le discours exploitant la peur face à la crise pourrait donner de l’espace aux politiques structurelles anti-migration. Ce qui nuirait aux droits et à la santé des migrants, et à leur impact positif sur le développement : en 2017, environ 258 millions de migrants internationaux ont comblé les pénuries de main-d’œuvre et contribué au transfert de compétences, de biens et de services indispensables dans le monde entier.

Nous avons fait des progrès remarquables pour renforcer la gouvernance des migrations. Mais si les droits des migrants ne sont pas protégés face à la crise du Covid-19 à court et à long terme, les avancées pourraient être réduites, mettant les migrants et leurs familles, ainsi que certains des fondements de notre économie mondiale, en danger. Continue reading

COVID-19: consequences for international migration and development

By Jason Gagnon, Development economist, OECD Development Centre


This blog is part of a series on tackling COVID-19 in developing countries. Visit the OECD dedicated page to access the OECD’s data, analysis and recommendations on the health, economic, financial and societal impacts of COVID-19 worldwide.


Immigration-coronavirus

(Lisez ce blog en français)

While the COVID-19 pandemic is not a migration issue, it is being viewed and managed as one. Fear-exploiting rhetoric around the crisis could provide the political space to push structural anti-migration policies through. This would be detrimental to the rights and health of migrants, and the positive impact migrants have on development – in 2017, an estimated 258 million international migrants filled labour shortages and contributed to transferring much needed skills, goods and services around the globe.

We have made remarkable strides to strengthen migration governance but if migrants’ rights are not protected in the short and long-term response to the COVID-19 crisis, progress could unravel, putting migrants and their families, as well as some of the foundations of our global economy at risk. Continue reading

Five Takeaways on Migration and Development

By Jason Gagnon, Development economist, OECD Development Centre

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Migration can lead to important gains for migrants, for their countries of origin and their destination. But this can only happen if migration happens under the right conditions. Destination and origin countries increasingly face common global challenges such as climate change, new technologies and long term changes in social behaviour. Furthermore, developing countries often have to manage and integrate migrant influxes themselves. All of this in a current state of an increasingly negative narrative surrounding migration. So how can migration be better managed? And what is the state of migration governance today? In between the first ever annual UN migration network meeting, and the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF), the OECD Development Centre held a debate – the Policy Dialogue on Migration and Development (PDMD) – with major players, governments, experts and policy-makers looking at the links between migration and development across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Continue reading

Social protection and risk: the ultimate root cause of migration?

By Jason Gagnon, Development economist / PGD coordinator, OECD Development Centre and Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Senior Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute
 

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Receiving cash transfers in Freetown, Sierra Leone (photo: Dominic Chavez/World Bank)

According to recent estimates, 258 million people in the world were living outside of their country of birth in 2017, up from a total of 161 million in 1990. That represents an increase of 60%. Under different circumstances, most migrants would never migrate in the first place; they would choose to stay close to their family and friends, and the food, music and culture they cherish. Migration – in these cases – is the consequence of something gone wrong.

So why do they leave? Poverty and lack of opportunities for a better future are the typical culprits. But it’s more complicated than that.

Risk is another factor that pushes many people to migrate. The mere risk of falling (back) into poverty can motivate migration. Indeed, migration theory has long described migration as a coping strategy to deal with risk. Empirical evidence confirms this. A 2016 qualitative study on Bolivia found that (internal) migration was a typical response by rural households in response to risks related to land access, insufficient work opportunities and low agricultural productivity. More evidence (on China) suggests that attitude towards risk can even determine who migrates from within the household. Continue reading

Let’s be transparent about refugee and IDP statistics

By Justin Schon, Postdoctoral Associate, University of Florida

refugeesIn March 2018, the Expert Group on Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Statistics (ERGIS) released detailed reports on the status of refugee and IDP statistics and challenges in compiling these statistics. The reports made many valuable recommendations for how to increase the quality and quantity of migration data, but several recent developments highlight the need to also be more transparent about the types of uncertainty that exist in our measurements.

Uganda announced in October that a recent census had revealed that it currently hosts 1.1 million refugees, not 1.4 million as had previously been believed. IOM data on displacement from Mosul in Iraq during the 2016-2017 military offensive to retake the city from ISIS forces show a sudden jump in the estimate of IDPs due to a counting adjustment. Fabrice Balanche notes that UNOCHA decreased its estimate of Syrian IDPs from 7.5 million to 6.5 million during the fall of 2015, simply due to blatant overestimates that it knew were being provided.

Uncertain estimates even exist in refugee camps, where there are large numbers of humanitarian personnel. Officials in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp have significantly revised its estimated population multiple times after new counts. For example, the REACH initiative conducted a camp census from December 30, 2014 through January 18, 2015, and counted 7 954 fewer people in the camp than during the June 2014 count. On July 10, 2018, UNHCR deactivated nearly 11 000 camp registrations due either because they were absent from the camp, they were bailed out, they had registered elsewhere in an urban location, or they had returned to their country of origin. Continue reading

What’s behind West African migration? Findings from nationwide surveys

By Matthew Kirwin, United States Department of State and National Intelligence University 2017-18 Research Fellow and Jessica Anderson, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University

Gambian migrants deported from Libya stand in line as they wait for registration at the airport in Banjul
© Luc Gnago/Reuters

The movement of sub-Saharan Africans through North Africa and on to Europe persists in the media spotlight. Over 700 000 African migrants have arrived in Italy through the perilous Central Mediterranean Route since 20141, and nearly 190 000 arrived in 2017 alone according to the International Organization of Migration (IOM). While 2018 numbers for this route are slightly lower2, Africans are now testing their luck with both the Central Mediterranean Route and a new path, seeking to reach Europe via Morocco and Spain. In the first half of 2018, the number of migrants entering through Spain has risen dramatically.3 Continue reading