While the number of Filipinos working abroad was the seventh largest among nationality groups of migrant workers around the world in 2015, the money remitted to their families back home in the Philippines was the third highest, according to early estimates made by a multinational research center led by the World Bank Group.
Overseas Filipinos working abroad numbered slightly more than 6 million (based on 2013 data) while their remittances to the Philippines in 2015 were projected to reach US$29.79 billion, according to the advanced edition of ‘Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016’ produced by the World Bank Group’s Global Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) initiative.
The KNOMAD report, released in Washington DC late last month, says that the amount of remittances to the Philippines in 2015 was eclipsed only by India, the leading recipient country which received $72 billion, and China, $64 billion.
Here in Manila, statistics from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show that for the period January-October 2015, total remittances from Filipinos overseas amounted to nearly $20.64 billion, an increase of 3.7 percent from the same period the year before. The Bangko Sentral expects total 2015 remittances to be in the neighborhood of $25.6 billion, lower than the World Bank research center’s forecast.
Further analyzing the KNOMAD data, the average amount remitted last year by a Filipino migrant worker was $4,965. Although this could be a high amount (because the Factbook 2016 report has a low estimate of Filipino migrant workers), this would come to a monthly remittance of roughly P19,800 per overseas Filipino. But if the average is computed based on the widely recognized estimate of 10.5 million overseas Filipinos (including the undocumented ones), the average monthly remittance in local currency terms would amount to around P11,080 per worker.
The new report also said India’s 13.88 million migrant workers remitted an estimated average of $5,197, while China’s 9.65 million overseas workers sent home around $6,620 on average last year.
An update of its Factbook 2011 edition, the new research report includes latest available statistics on immigration, emigration, skilled emigration, and remittance flows for 214 countries and territories. The report estimates that the total number of international migrants could reach 250 million while the money they sent home in 2015 was forecast at $601 billion, of which $441 billion went to developing countries.
In a country where unemployment and poverty levels remain high, the amount of remittances to the Philippines projected by the KNOMAD report would exceed by a wide margin the foreign direct investments expected by the government to flow into the country in 2015.
Also, the remittances would be almost double the amount of foreign aid extended by donor institutions and governments, and nearly half of the country’s total exports for the year.
In 2014, the remittances that flowed into the Philippines comprised nearly a tenth of the year’s overall value of all goods and services produced in the economy. The ratio could be slightly lower this year, if economic trends as of last September did not change.
TOP DESTINATIONS, TOP SOURCES
The top destination countries of Filipinos working abroad are the United States, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Qatar, Kuwait and Italy, as per the KNOMAD report.
Overall, the top 10 migrant destination countries of all migrant workers worldwide in 2015 were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Spain and Australia.
On the other hand, the top 10 migrant source countries were India, Mexico, Russia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Ukraine and United Kingdom, the KNOMAD report says.
An interesting trend noted by the report indicates a growing number of migrant workers from developing countries moving to other developing economies, accounting for 38 percent of the total number of international migrants. On the other hand, migrants from developing countries to economically advanced countries fell to 34 percent of the total.
'LIFELINE FOR MILLIONS'
Another highlight of the report shows that Mexico-United States was the largest “migration corridor” in the world, accounting for 13 million migrants in 2013. Russia-Ukraine was the second largest, followed by Bangladesh-India, and Ukraine-Russia. The latter three are developing-country corridors.
Sonia Plaza, co-author of the KNOMAD’s Factbook 2016 says: “There is ample research to demonstrate that migration, both of highly-skilled and low skilled workers, generates numerous benefits for receiving and sending countries. The diaspora of developing countries and return migration can be a source of capital, trade, investment, knowledge, and technology transfers.”
Another co-author, Dilip Ratha, notes: “At more than three times the size of development aid, international migrants’ remittances provide a lifeline for millions of households in developing countries. In addition, migrants hold more than $500 billion in annual savings.”
“Together, remittances and migrant savings offer a substantial source of financing for development projects that can improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries,” Ratha points out.