One of the most pressing issues in global policy development is migration. The 2005 report by The Global Commission on International Migration (GCIM) to the UN Secretary General Kofi Anan outlines the dimensions and dynamics of international migration. The report has focused the attention of a number of inter-governmental organizations (IGO) and agencies on a variety of aspects created by migration. While the 127 member-country International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading body to take on an advocacy role for the implementation of “safe and orderly migration” through research and policy development, agencies such as the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been monitoring monetary streams, called remittances, which are created by migrants who send part of their earnings back to their country of origin. These transfers have reached, according to a WB estimate, $397 billion in 2008, $305 billion of which were sent to developing countries by 190 million migrants or 3% of the world population. A recent IMF publication (Occasional Paper 259) traces the Macroeconomic Consequences of Remittances. The World Bank’s ‘Migration and Development Brief 10’ provides an Outlook for Remittance Flows 2009-2011: Remittances Expected to Fall by 7-10 Percent in 2009. The brief is accompanied by country-by-country data in Excel format. Figures on monthly remittance flows for selected countries are also available. These data update the Migration & Remittances Factbook 2008 (check availability @ Duke), a “snapshot of migration and remittances data for all countries, regions and income groups of the world, compiled from various sources.” The Migration & Remittances page on the World Bank site offers access to more papers and publications related to this topic. In addition, the World Bank blog People Move provides timely updates on emerging research findings and trends. It goes without saying that the services which send the money back to the migrants’ home countries are not free. The WB traces the cost of these transfers on its Remittance Prices Worldwide site.
It is to be hoped that the sheer magnitude of these transactions and their economic impact will help to focus attention on the humanitarian and ethical issues underlying the process of migration, issues which are often, despite the apparent beneficial financial results, less than benign.