Harnessing Remittances

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Filipinas belly up to the remittance bar in Hong Kong

Filipinas belly up to the remittance bar in Hong Kong [Stuart Hargreaves / Flickr]

Migrant workers will remit more than $232 billion to their families this year. The money migrant workers earn — harvesting produce in California, cleaning houses in Singapore, and tending children in Kuwait– is meager by the standards of the developed world, but it means everything for their families back home. $232 billion is twice what the world paid out in international aid last year; in Latin America it was more than aid and foreign direct investment combined. This is big business, and economists are just starting to take notice.

This year, the LA Times has been running a series of articles on remittances, calling them “The New Foreign Aid.” Policy makers like this line– they like to shrug off questions about the slim foreign aid budget by coupling those numbers with the huge sums of money that workers are remitting home. It’s all going to the same place, right?

Are remittances better suited to help small communities than aid, or are they just signs that aid is failing? What does it mean that workers are making these kinds of sacrifices, and what will it mean when governments learn to depend on those sacrifices? Are remittances a viable development strategy? One program in Mexico pledges 3 pesos to every one that is remitted and used toward public works. Spain is starting to encourage the Ecuadorian migrants working there to send money home (largely in response to the Spanish banks in Ecuador who will benefit from the cash flow). But can remittances provide the kind of meaningful improvements in education and jobs and infrastructure that would mean future generations wouldn’t have to leave?

Tell us your stories. Do you send money home? Receive? What do the monthly visits to Western Union mean for your life here, and what do they mean for your family? We want to talk about the big issues here: remittances as development, as political power, as foreign aid, as export revenue. Weigh in.

Manuel Orozco

Senior Associate, Inter-American Dialogue

Katrina Burgess

Assistant Professor of International Political Economy, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Research, Watson Institute for International Studies

Katherine Andrade Eekhoff

Coordinator for migration and human development programs at the United Nations Development Program in El Salvador

Don Bartletti

Photographer, Los Angeles Times

Contributed four slideshows to The New Foreign Aid series

2003 Pulitzer Prize, Feature Photography

Jose Francisco Avila

President, New Horizons Investment Club

Thanks to Ethan Zuckerman for turning us on to this idea with his remittance business post

Extra Credit Reading

Steve Ntwiga Mugiri, The diaspora, “nation building??? and a pound of flesh. Steve Ntwiga Mugiri (via Kenyan Pundit)

Nextbillion, Remittances, World Resources Institute

Manuel Orozco, Worker Remittances in an International Scope, Inter-American Development Bank, March, 2003

The World Bank, Global Economic Prospects: Economic Implications of Remittances and Migration, 2006

Update, May 18, 7:30 pm

On our own blog, Nother has done some reporting, talking to a Brazilian waitress at his restaurant in Somerville, Mass.

I asked her how many of the South Americans we work with are documented. She said “me.??? I asked her out of all the Brazilians she knows in her daily life here, what percentage are here “illegally,??? she said 90%. During lunch she talked about personal experiences and the experiences of our co-workers in getting into this country. She reacted like no American had ever asked her these questions before, even her husband.

Petra told me that the bussers we work with work up to 90 hours a week and send about $2000 home a month. They live in places like Framingham 5 or 6 people to a room. People sleep on the floor. She said they use a fake SSN and claim the maximum dependents. She said if these people were allowed to be here legally they would file properly and it would mean more tax revenue for the government.

I asked Petra why she wants to be here, why they all go through this. She said, “here, if you work decent, you have a decent life.??? Throughout lunch Petra kept repeating the refrain, “you have no clue.??? “Americans have no clue.??? She said she feels “so blessed.??? She said she did not have electricity till she was 13 years old and even then they used it sparingly. She said the average person in Brazil makes $150.00 a month and they only get paid once a month. They can’t afford air conditioner and to fill up a tank a gas cost $60.00. $3000.00 for a 29’ TV. Her mother pays $300 a month for medicine and if Petra wasn’t sending that money her mother would be dead.

Nother, from a comment to Open Source, May 18, 2006

  • junec

    We export our factories overseas where wages are low. Workers come here because wages are high. I still think there is something to be said for Workers of the World uniting. If workers of the world were united we could all stay home.

  • junec

    (or travel as we please) In this ideal IWW worker united world there would be no borders and therefore no expensive wars so we could all live well.

  • warren

    We wouldn’t have so many immigrants flooding across U.S. borders, nor so much money heading South if U.S. Foreign Policy hadn’t entailed undermining Leftist governments in Latin America for the past century creating political instability, and paranoia of death squads within the populace. Let alone Neo-liberal trade policy that gave Businesses from U.S. and other 1st world countries leverage into these countries without the Civic, Envirnonmental, or Labor responsibilities that came with a tax happy industrial society.

    The U.S. would have a stronger economy and state if we didn’t export Neo-Liberal Trade Policy which has bankrupted states and impoverished(sometimes enslaved) communities. Forcing some family members in these communities to head North and re-capture some of the wealth and send it back home.

    Great topic.

  • mdhatter

    Should foriegn governments limit remittances by US corporations operating in their territory?

    How well would that go over? Ask Fidel.

  • nother

    You write that you want to “talk about the big issues here,� You seem to want to focus on the big economic issues in a macro sense but I hope you will counter that with a look at the micro impact including the selfless sacrifices that these remittances represent. I’ve worked with many people at my restaurant who send money home and what blows me away and humbles everyday is their massive sacrifice. I’m not just talking about sacrificing the money they have earned and the higher standard of living that money could bring them; I’m talking about sacrificing that oh so precious time away from their loved ones back home. Lonely sleepless nights in a strange land made stranger by the language, by the culture, and by the blurriness from perpetual tears in the eyes – longing for that taken for granted hug from daughter, mother, son, dad.

    I’m also talking about sacrificing their damm dignity as that father of 3 mops that slimy floor for 8 dollars an hour thinking about the potential stomachs it might fill back home; and that 22 year arrogant bartender brushes by him like he doesn’t exist. That spoiled 30 year old restaurant manager scolds the 50 year old dishwasher (a former business owner in Brazil) for working too slow. That prima donna front desk manager points her finger down at the maid chastising her, and the maid a former teacher in Guatemala can only respond in broken English with broken dignity. She will swallow her pride though, there is no doubt in that. An affirmed pride, a defended dignity, will not provide for her family back home. No worries, she has detached herself from this “place� anyhow, the reality of her laboring 14 days are a dream and those few quiet hours on a bed dreaming of home are her reality. Soon the reality of her dreams will match her true dignity, and her family will be whole.

    These people leaving their families and homeland for a greater good reminds me of the stories about the Irish Wake during the famine, where parents put their kids on boats to America knowing they would never see them again. I have a Guatemalan friend whose father put the family’s small house up for a loan that financed the smuggling of his son (my friend) into America. He was 16, alone, spoke no English, and only had a phone number of a cousin. Even in the face of those odds, his father knew the family had a better chance if his son could make it America. After many shaky years his father’s bet came in, but at a very high cost. My friend has lost all that time with his family and he has spent that time working at least 90 hours a week, first as a dishwasher and now as a cook.

    The NY Times book review has excerpts from a book this week called “Enrique’s Journey.� It involves a mother who lets go of her country her children and part of her heart, with the intention of giving her family a better life.

    “Lourdes sends Enrique $50 a month, occasionally $100, sometimes nothing. It is enough for food but not for school clothes, fees, notebooks, or pencils, which are expensive in Honduras. There is never enough for a birthday present. But Grandmother Mar’a hugs him and wishes him a Cheery `Feliz cumplea-os! “Your mom can’t send enough,” she says, “so we both have to work.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/07/books/chapters/0507-1st-naza.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

    There is a great passage that touches on the sacrifice of dignity and loss. In this passage the woman is making money caring for somebody else’s children.

    “Every morning as the couple leave for work, the little girl cries for her mother. Lourdes feeds her breakfast and thinks of Enrique and Belky. She asks herself: “Do my children cry like this? I’m giving this girl food instead of feeding my own children.” To get the girl to eat, Lourdes pretends the spoon is an airplane. But each time the spoon lands in the girl’s mouth, Lourdes is filled with sadness.

  • http://www.circles-salon.com allison

    Thre is so much ground here to cover. The macro. The micro.

    nother, you are privileged to be able to “see”. So many could walk amongst the same people and never see. Clearly, your humanity is enriched. And the people whose lives you witnessed may not be as alone as they think. Witnessing means more than you might imagine.

    On the macro level, I’m not sure that removing borders solves anything. I don’t necessarily believe in them myself, so I’m not against it. But I the issues are beyond the governments of countries. Corporations are feeding a consumption machine that demands more for less. Regardless of borders, until we change the demand, the corporations will continue to move jobs where they can pay the least. If they do not have national governments to turn to, my guess is that they will create corporate armies. This is what drug cartels do. And the globe is a vast place. No one can police it all.

    I hate sound so cynical. I’m not. I’m simply concerned that we focus on the wrong things and we miss the key. We need leaders to create deep, deep social change. Consciousness has to be awakened. “Ask not what more the worker can give you for less. Ask what more you can give the worker for less.”

    Its a cultural mindset about lifestyle. As long as people demand everything on the cheap; as long as people can’t differentiate between want and need; as long as people turn a blind eye to the real costs of the things they consume; as long as people live in fear and seek power over others to ameliorate that, there will always be these vast imbalances and wars over resources.

  • miriama

    Knowing nothing about this topic, it’s hard for me to see this as an alternative to foreign aid, since aid is supposed to build the public infrastructure of development–remittances seem to be about giving one’s own family members fish rather than teaching anybody to fish. But I guess the idea is getting under the radar screen of corrupt global south governments and corrupt global north structural adjustment strictures. Is that right? How to get teaching fishing in there, according to the lights and styles and economic models of the folks back home? (Not to mention the problems of overfishing…) Looking forward to learning from the show. Thanks for doing it.

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  • sarahdenny

    I think remittances can support economic development, but they should not be seen as a substitute for developing strong domestic economies. The World Bank, for example, likes to point to the free-market reforms in El Salvador as a success story of their policy agenda. In reality, without remittances, the country would be a basket case. Rather than promoting brain drain for the purpose of generating remittances, developing countries need the policy space and support from the richer countries that is necessary to develop economic opportunities at home.

  • Irisper02

    I am a legal inmigrant from the Dominican Republic. I came to the US back in the 90′s, learned English and pretty much have assimilated into the American Culture.

    Along with my parents, I sent remittances back to the “motherland” on a regular basis. For the Dominican Republic, remittances represent the 2nd source of revenue (both from inmigrants living in Europe and the US). The first one is Tourism.

    Still, when I left the country, there was a stigma surrouding “Dominicanos ausentes” (Absent Dominicans), and society in general looked down on you for abandoning the country and becoming part of another society.

    This is why, many people in Latin America don’t assimilate well into other societies: They are afraid of confirming the stereotype by abandoning their heritage and forgetting where they came from.

    I think that govertments in Latin America have learned to take us inmigrants for granted. It has been only in recent years when many of these countries have allowed double citizenship (the DR being one of them) and implemented softer regulations to let us buy Real Estate and make local investments.

    The life of an inmigrant is not an easy one, even if you have legal status.

    You will always have a longing to go back to your roots, you will always wondered what if had stayed?

  • apostlethwaite

    I would be interested in finding out why the Western Unions and their competitors charge such high rates for transmitting money back to Latin America. The fees are higher than you would pay to borrow that amount of money for a year. This looks like taking advantage of the poor and weak. It’s one thing when Daddy has to wire his wayward daughter a few hundred dollars to pay for that unexpected college expense, and pays the high Western Union fees as a kind of emergency penalty. But when the same high fees are charged as a routine tax on the paychecks of the working poor, it’s a bigger concern.

    Are there commercial risks that Western Union undertakes to justify these high fees? Or is it just opportunism?

  • http://bolicarreras.blogspot.com Boli-Nica

    Broad topic,

    Remittances are a huge source of revenue in every Latin American country. In small countries the income received can equal the value of exports.

    Andres Oppenheimer came up with an interesting term: transnational citizens. To denote the role of some foreign nationals, who through remittances and better communication stay involved in their homelands:

    http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/columnists/andres_oppenheimer/14241499.htm

    Let me focus mainly on the effects of this money to the individuals and families receiving it:

    On a practical level, it involves a Latin American family or individual receiving a couple hundred dollars on regular basis from a family member.

    That money can make a huge difference to a family. Just to give examples. For a very poor family, it can make the difference between a child working, or a child going to school and having money for school supplies. It can mean enough for an elderly family to live better. It can be the equivalent of unemployement insurance for someone out of a job, where there is no safety net. Having dollars, can be huge for a family in one of the periodic economic crisis in the area. As an example the hundreds of dollars sent by my father and aunt, made a huge difference to my grandparents during the hyper-inflation in the 80′s where prices would go up from the morning to the evening.

    It can mean an exponential increase in the equity people have (or don’t have). It can mean buying a plot of land, or legally acquiring title on the land occupied. It can mean improvements on property, a solid roof, floor, running water, an electricity connection. Countless people in Mexico, Central America or South America now have better housing as a result. In a deadly landslide in Guatemala, some residents with relatives in the USA, had built houses that were much more solid than that of their neighbors. Guess who survived??? On a more benign note, friends of mine from Mexico who worked like crazy at a Pizzeria in Chicago, who not only built their parents houses on their small plot of land, bought more land and built themselves houses too.

    It can mean goods such as a TV or a computer, which a family might not have.

    In addition, In rural area it can mean farm animals for a family farm. Seed and fertilizer for crops, and even the monthly payment towards a tractor.

    In a city it can be enough for a family to purchase supplies to run a vending cart, small sales booth, or even a general store. out of their house.

    For a family that is slightly better off, it can mean college fees and books for a young adult who might otherwise not go to college.

    The value is enormous, you can say it is a direct investment in human capital.

  • http://www.ntwiga.net/blog smugiri

    Some of what I think will eventually be seen as key issues as far as the issue of remittances goes:

    - The need for establishment of effective and cheap mechanisms for the remittance of funds.

    Western Union (an other companies in this sector) has built such a profitable business off the labour of workers outside their nation of origin who need to send remmitances home that they are now out of the communications industry.

    Mexico, which is the source of one of the highest migrant worker populations in the world has already began to address this issue through policy and systems.

    - The issue of double taxation of remitted funds.

    For workers who are sending significant amounts of money home, double taxation is a serious problem since they are almost always taxed on funds remitted again at their home nations.

    - The role of citizenship/work status as well as the issue of south-north brain drain with regards to remittances.

    It is impossible to deal with the issue of remittances without at the very least touching on the issue of south-north brain drain. Conventional wisdoms argues that workers who are not citizens of the nations where they work or do not have legal status in those nations are more likely to remit funds than those who are. It also argues that they are also more likely to remit larger amounts as they are not able to invest these funds wherever they may be as those immigrant workers who have status or whom are citizens of their host nations are able to.

    Unfortunately, it is frequently the case that workers in this category are likely to be working low paying manual jobs unlike workers with status/citizenship of their adopted countries who will typically work at better paying white collar jobs suggesting that those people who need to remit money the most are in the unfortunate position of having the smallest earning potential which is especially troubling in the case of small and medium sized nations (nations with populations of check out page 170 of this World Bank report.

    Steps have to be taken by the nations subjected to these losses to address this.

    - the impact of remittances on national economies.

    Remittances have an enourmous economic impact on the nations (primarily through their effect on interest rates) to which they are sent since they are effectively “unearned” cash foreign exchange that the economy needs to absorb. Governments have become increasingly aware of their impact on national economies and are begining to take measure to manage them and minimize their direct impact.

    - Steve

  • http://www.ntwiga.net/blog smugiri

    Don’t you just hate it when your comments dont make it through to the other side unharmed. My “less than” sign was interpreted as HTML and my comment was truncated.

    I meant to say

    - The role of citizenship/work status as well as the issue of south-north brain drain with regards to remittances.

    It is impossible to deal with the issue of remittances without at the very least touching on the issue of south-north brain drain. Conventional wisdoms argues that workers who are not citizens of the nations where they work or do not have legal status in those nations are more likely to remit funds than those who are. It also argues that they are also more likely to remit larger amounts as they are not able to invest these funds wherever they may be as those immigrant workers who have status or whom are citizens of their host nations are able to.

    Unfortunately, it is frequently the case that workers in this category are likely to be working low paying manual jobs unlike workers with status/citizenship of their adopted countries who will typically work at better paying white collar jobs suggesting that those people who need to remit money the most are in the unfortunate position of having the smallest earning potential which is especially troubling in the case of small and medium sized nations (nations with populations of less than 2.5m and between 2.5 and 10m respectively) that have emigration rates going as high as 30% in the skilled groupcheck out page 170 of this World Bank report for the actual numbers..

    Steps have to be taken by the nations subjected to these losses to address this.

    - the impact of remittances on national economies.

    Remittances have an enourmous economic impact on the nations (primarily through their effect on liquidity and thus interest rates) to which they are sent since they are effectively “unearned” cash foreign exchange that the economy needs to absorb. Governments have become increasingly aware of their impact on national economies and are begining to take measure to manage them and minimize their direct impact to some extent as is documented here.

    - Steve

  • nother

    My computer crashed last week so I won’t be hanging around these parts for a while. By the way, thankyou Allison for those kind words above. I came to the Somerville public library to write this. I interviewed a waitress from Brazil I’ve worked with for a few years now. I suffered through a lunch with this beautiful woman for the ROS cause. I forgot a notebook and wrote the following on napkins.

    I asked her how many of the South Americans we work with are documented. She said “me.� I asked her out of all the Brazilians she knows in her daily life here, what percentage are here “illegally,� she said 90%. During lunch she talked about personal experiences and the experiences of our co-workers in getting into this country. She reacted like no American had ever asked her these questions before, even her husband. Her face became stern, and the words matter of fact. She said her brother recently paid the going rate of $10,000 to a coiote/coyote or to get him through the border. Apparently that coiote uses part of that money to pay people off at the border. She said knows of many people who sold everything they own to get up the 10 thousand and when they didn’t make it across the border they had to return home with nothing. She knows of many women who could not come up with all the money and had to make up the difference with sex. She told me her brother walked and ran for almost three days across the dessert. At some point he had to swim a long way. Many people get lost and die in that dessert, she said. Someone was waiting for her brother at the border with a van and drove him straight here.

    Petra told me that the bussers we work with work up to 90 hours a week and send about $2000 home a month. They live in places like Framingham 5 or 6 people to a room. People sleep on the floor. She said they use a fake SSN and claim the maximum dependents. She said if these people were allowed to be here legally they would file properly and it would mean more tax revenue for the government.

    I asked Petra why she wants to be here, why they all go through this. She said, “here, if you work decent, you have a decent life.� Throughout lunch Petra kept repeating the refrain, “you have no clue.� “Americans have no clue.� She said she feels “so blessed.� She said she did not have electricity till she was 13 years old and even then they used it sparingly. She said the average person in Brazil makes $150.00 a month and they only get paid once a month. They can’t afford air conditioner and to fill up a tank a gas cost $60.00. $3000.00 for a 29’ TV. Her mother pays $300 a month for medicine and if Petra wasn’t sending that money her mother would be dead.

    A quick personal observation. Petra is one of the most special people I know. Her smile radiates a room, she makes prolonged eye contact when she smiles and you automatically feel special too. I told her Petra, you are beautiful, smart, and caring, you have the world at your finger tips, yet she still finds it hard to think past being a waitress all her life. I realized from knowing Petra that along with all the tangible obstacles immigrants face, getting past the feeling of being marginalized may be the hardest obstacle of all.

    My time limit at this computer is up. Was that 200 words? I don’t have time to count.

  • http://www.circles-salon.com allison

    nother, you’ve done it again. Witnessed.

    I hope you changed names to protect the innocent!

    I lived and worked in Brasil for a while during the 1980s. I was privileged to be earning my wages from a US firm in American dollars at a time when inflation was 1,000%. That’s right. One thousand.

    Your friend is right to say that we just don’t understand. Conditions in other countries are beyond our comprehension. You have to see it to believe it. Its been a while since I’ve seen. And though I have some serious health issues right now, I will be going to a remote area in El Salvador this summer to refresh my memory.

    The real tragedy about US citizens complaining in any way about immigrants, legal or not, is our refusal to accept how our policies and actions have created an untenable environment in the homeland’s of these people.

    We are a people that never accepts responsibility. We are the masters at being narcissistic abusers that always feel the effects of our own behaviors as some kind of victimization. What pains me about that analogy is that in the world of psychology there has never been a case of curing someone of narcissism. Is the world doomed at our hands? Not if enough of us who aren’t narcissistic can stand up and get the abusers out of power. It has to be done with relentlessness. You have to have the strength to ignore their cries of victimhood and claims to enlightenment. Don’t be fooled again. We simply have to hold people, ourselves, accountable, draw the line and don’t let anyone cross it without ramifications. It a tough row to hoe. So far, I haven’t seen a critical mass of people willing to do the work. I haven’t even seen a commanding leader that calls for us to do the work.

  • peggysue

    nother,

    Once again, you speak to the heart of the issue with the depth and compassion of your heartfelt observations.

    Thank You.

  • jennifer isern

    As more data becomes available on cross-border remittances, these financial flows are attracting greater attention from the private sector, governments, and development agencies alike. Although not all money transfers are captured in official statistics, formal remittances nevertheless constitute the second largest source of external funding for developing countries, ahead of both capital market flows and official development assistance. Remittances are qualitatively different from other sources of development finance in that they are both relatively stable and counter-cyclical in nature, since migrants tend to remit more during periods of economic downturn in their home countries.

    Because remittances represent private money sent personto-person, they benefit the poor directly and as poor people determine they need it— on demand.

    From the viewpoint of financial service providers (FSPs), transferring remittances

    can be a lucrative business. Western Union’s dominance in this market has earned the company hefty profit margins, estimated to be 150 percent higher than those of the average US commercial bank. Attracted by this profit potential, smaller providers have begun to explore market segments not yet penetrated by the global giants, often by targeting particular diaspora communities and/or by improving domestic transfer services in developing countries.

    Financial service providers that cater to the poor have been drawn to the money

    transfer market because it offers them the opportunity to fulfill their financial goals as well as their social objectives. As a fee-based product, money transfers can generate revenues and bolster an FSP’s bottom line. From a social perspective, money transfers allow FSPs to deliver an additional service demanded by low-income customers, at a cost potentially lower than that of mainstream providers. In addition, remittances could be transformed into savings accounts, building a credit (payments) history to eventually qualify for a loan, pay insurance premiums for the migrant and his/her family back home, etc. Bringing remittances into the formal financial sector will help both the remitter and the receiver.

    We’ve done a paper on how pro-poor FSPs might enter the money transfer market in their respective countries (http://www.cgap.org/docs/OccasionalPaper_10.pdf) We’re also finalizing a more detailed operations guide for FSPs, and that will be available in 2-3 months. Finally, we’re launching a fund for technical assistance to help institutions develop new or improve existing money transfer services in emerging markets.

  • http://www.radioopensource.org Chris

    Brother Nother: Tell me how I can help you get your computer back up. Nothing against the Somerville public library, but I want your heart and mind plugged in to this conversation pretty much all the time. Drop a line, please.

  • http://www.radioopensource.org/user/sidewalker sidewalker

    Excellent show and a wonderful selection of guests provided a very comprehensive discussion that raised many more questions about aid and development.

    Thanks for your post, nother.

  • babu

    Quick note to say how grateful I am for the recent full plate of OS related dialogues; prison, slavery, immigrants, the prisoner’s wife. It’s breathtaking.

    The threads are starting to talk to each other while maintaining their own unique voices.

  • http://www.rockisland.com/~pmcrae/index.html peggysue

    PS. From the currently reclusive Nikos, I deliver this message….

    Nikos: “Post a ‘PS’ that says that Nikos wrote you in an email that he loves nother’s posts there too, and that he’d love to thank and praise him via email? If we could only figure out a non-public way to exchange addresses?â€?

  • gacooke

    As an Irish citizen living in the U.S. I can’t help but see a bit of a positive side to remittance. I don’t believe remittance is anything new and has been put into practice for at least the last couple of centuries. Although it is very difficult for many to leave their home country in order to support their family back home, as we’ve seen in Ireland the long term benefits to the home country are far reaching. Although Ireland had some advantages over many of the current developing countries such as being part of Europe and English speaking it still nevertheless was a country in poverty for a long time despite these characteristics. Although there are many causes that contributed to Irelands current success I believe that one of the strongest underlying and understated reasons was this need to move abroad and support the family back home. Besides the obvious affects to the immediate family back home and limited stimulation of the economy I believe the real success lies in the experience, the networking and professionalism that those that left bring back home with them in the long term. For years Ireland said it’s biggest export was it’s people and it’s best educated always left home, although this obviously did not help the home economy in the short term it paid of huge dividends in the end as foreign companies invested in a country they now had experience, confidence and trust in. I’m not saying that the remittance process is all good and can’t do with some change, nor do I believe there is not more we can be doing to help speed up the devolpment of other countries but I do believe that when viewed alone it can be considered the very early stages of a long process that can ulitimately have extremely positive affects on the home country.

  • babu

    Welcome gacooke from another Seattleite.

    If I get your drift, you’re saying that the advantage to Ireland was that people educated and improved themselves and then went home where they and their skills attracted new investment, etc.

    Does this mean that the U.S. ought to begin to close its borders and to encourage people to go home? Would that amount to a sort of back-door foreign aid where we supplied skilled returning nationals rather than impersonal aid or foreign investment? Just a thought.

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