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Beyond Altruism and Self-interest: The Growing Importance of External Factors in the Determination of Remittances Flowing to Latin America

Diego E. Vacaflores

International Economic Journal, 2018, vol. 32, issue 2, 235-255

Abstract: Remittances have become an important and reliable source of funds for many developing countries, affecting the well-being of its population and the performance of their economies. However, challenging conditions in the economies were migrant workers reside has unveiled the increasing importance of external factors in determining their ability to send money back home. This study relies on migration patterns to create migration and distance-weighted measures of external condition, and uses the Arellano and Bond dynamic panel methodology to gauge the relevance of these external macroeconomic conditions during the 1995–2015 period for a set of 18 Latin American countries. The results indicate that external conditions, irrespective of the way in which they are measured, have a positive and statistically significant effect on the amount of remittances flowing into the region, and that such effect go beyond differences in levels, as relative differences prove to be important as well. While the results also show that remittances are inversely related to the income level of receiving countries and that these flows respond positively to better economic performance and higher interest rates in the receiving country, such altruistic and self-interest factors are less consistent than the one found for foreign economic activity.

Date: 2018
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