Latin American and Caribbean migrants sent $61 billion in remittances to their home countries last year, up 6 percent from $57.6 billion in 2010, according to a report released today by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF).
Last year’s increase confirmed the upward trend in migrants’ money transfers that started in mid-2010, after the double digit drop in remittances recorded in 2009 as a result of the economic crisis. In 2011, nearly every country in this region received a greater dollar amount in remittances than the previous year.
Most of the money continued to be sent from traditional host countries such as the United States and Western Europe. In the United States, source of about three-quarters of remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean, foreign workers saw improving employment and wage levels. As a consequence, migrants made more transfers for higher amounts than the previous year.
In contrast, uncertain employment prospects in Europe resulted in drops in remittance flows to Latin America in the fourth quarter of 2011. In the case of Spain, the migrant population shrank by as much as 2 percent last year, as foreign workers (particularly men who lost jobs in the construction industry) left that country.
Brazil was the only Latin American country that registered a drop in remittances received in 2011, measured in nominal terms. These flows dipped nearly 5 percent to about $2.0 billion.
In contrast migrant transfers to Brazil – typically one-off transactions made when foreign workers decide to return to their countries of origin – jumped 51 percent to $2.1 billion, and for the first time exceeded workers’ remittances to that country.