Migrants' billions put aid in the shade

From Aid | The Guardian Wed Jan 30 2013, 18:35:48

Money transfers from workers abroad to family back home have tripled in a decade and are three times larger than global aid budgets

For decades it was a largely unnoticed feature of the global economy, a blip of a statistic that hinted at the tendency of expatriates to send a little pocket money back to families in their home countries.

But now, the flow of migrant money around the world has shot up to record levels as more people than ever cross borders to live and work abroad. It's known as remittance money, and in 2012 it topped $530bn (£335bn), according to the latest World Bank figures.

The amount has tripled in a decade and is now more than three times larger than total global aid budgets, sparking serious debate as to whether migration and the money it generates is a realistic alternative to just doling out aid. If remittances at the level recorded by the World Bank were a single economy, it would be the 22nd largest in the world, bigger than Iran or Argentina.

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