Why remittances are up, despite the coronavirus pandemic : The Indicator from Planet Money In 2019, migrants sent a record $500 billion back to their countries of origin. Then COVID hit, and the World Bank predicted a 20 percent drop in that flow of cash. But now the data is in, and it turns out remittances have held steady.

The Great Remittance Mystery

The Great Remittance Mystery

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Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images
A man wearing a face mask passes by a screen displaying the currency exchange rate of the Russian ruble with U.S. dollar and Euro, September 2020.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

Each year, up to 270 million immigrants around the world send money to their home countries. In 2019, remittances hit an all-time of over $550 billion. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and triggered a global recession. By mid-April, the International Monetary Fund was referring to the "worst economic downturn since The Great Depression."

Remittances were expected to drop. By late-April, the World Bank predicted that global remittances would shrink by more than 20%. But that hasn't happened. Recent data shows that remittances have held steady and in some cases, even gone up.

It's a remittance mystery!

To solve it, The Indicator talked with Laura Caron, a specialist in development economics and World Bank consultant currently reading for a doctorate in economics at Columbia University about her recent work with Erwin R. Tiongson, a World Bank consultant and Deputy Director of the Global Human Development Program at Georgetown University

– Laura Caron and Erwin R. Tiongson's article: https://bit.ly/35pUJJO

– Spikes in remittances to Mexico: https://bit.ly/3ksU1lw

– 2019 remittance data and early projections: https://bit.ly/35pVkLy

– Remittances rebound after April: https://pewrsr.ch/3mi6fOk

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