NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Remittances Making a Difference

November 25, 2003

The ever-increasing U.S. immigrant population from Latin America will send a record $30 billion back to their homelands this year, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Inter-American Development Bank.

The study is the first of its kind to look broadly at the phenomenon of remittances, or the money sent abroad by immigrants. It included a public opinion survey of more than 3,000 people each in Mexico, Central America and Ecuador.

According to the Pew and IDB study:

  • The biggest stream of dollars comes from Mexican workers, which may reach $14.5 billion this year.
  • Western Union and MoneyGram control about 70 percent of the wire transfer market, but conventional banks and credit unions and competing wire-transfer firms have cut into their market share.
  • About 11 percent of senders say they used banks, but 17 percent say they used informal means, such as mail or individuals who carry the funds by hand.
  • In Mexico, 33 percent of remittance-receivers reported having bank accounts, compared with 22 percent of the general population, the study found.
  • Officially, Mexico's central bank reports that, through September, the flow of worker dollars amounted to nearly $10 billion; at that clip, the central bank tally should exceed $13 billion, a record level.

The flow of worker dollars to Latin America, the report notes, is an obvious outgrowth of migration to the United States that has been building momentum for a quarter century.

Source: Dianne Solís, "Immigrant cash flow spiraling: Latin American workers to send home a record $30 billion this year," Dallas Morning News, November 25, 2003; based on, Study, "Remittance Senders and Receivers: Tracking the Transnational Channels," Pew Hispanic Center, November 24, 2003.


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