The amount of cash remitted to bank accounts in the developing world rose by 5.3 percent to an estimated $401bn in 2012, according to a report by the World Bank.
The bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief said that money remitted to developing countries is expected to grow by an annual average of 8.8 percent over the next three years, reaching $515bn by 2015.
India topped the list of countries that saw the biggest inflows during the year at $69bn, followed by China ($60bn), the Philippines ($24bn) and Mexico ($23bn). Other big recipients included Egypt, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Lebanon.
“The role of remittances in helping lift people out of poverty has always been known, but there is also abundant evidence that migration and remittances are helping countries achieve progress... such as access to education, safe water, sanitation and healthcare,” commented Hans Timmer, director of the World’s Bank’s Development Prospects group.
Remittance flows to South Asia rose by 12.8 percent to $109bn in 2012, after averaging 13.8 percent over the prior two years. India received $69bn during the year, while flows to Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal also rose. Cash remitted back to the region is expected to hit $140bn in 2015, the World Bank report said.
Inflows to the Middle East and North Africa accounted for $49bn in 2012, up 14.3 percent from the previous year.
Egypt made up 40 percent of this total, having seen a six-fold rise over the past eight years, due to its high number of workers in oil-rich countries in the region.
Remittance flows to the Middle East and North Africa are expected to grow by 5 percent to 6 percent, hitting $58bn to 2015.
In terms of a percentage of GDP, Tajikistan came out top in the World Bank report, with 47 percent comprised of remittances.
More than a fifth of Nepal’s GDP (22 percent), is derived from money remitted back to the South Asian country.