My Philippine remittance research, cited in The Economist

I was pleased to see that my research on the impact of migrant remittances in the Philippines was mentioned in this week’s edition of The Economist. The article, “Like Manna from Heaven”, highlights the positive impacts that migrant remittances can have on migrants’ home countries. It describes results from my 2008 paper on the impact of the Philippine peso devaluation during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, which dramatically increased the value of remittances coming in from overseas (mostly from migrant earnings in currencies that were less affected by the crisis). Some of the Filipino migrants working overseas at the time (in, say Saudi Arabia and other parts of the Middle East) saw the value of their overseas earnings rise by over 50% when converted to Philippine pesos.

In the paper I show that this increase in the peso-value of migrant remittances had a wide range of beneficial impacts in remittance-receiving households (over the course of the next 15 months or so). Child labor fell, and child school attendance rose. Households invested more in capital-intensive microenterprises, and worked more hours on those enterprises. They also ended up with higher ownership of vehicles, many of which are probably used in transportation-related microenterprises (e.g., jeepneys and motorized tricycle taxis, if you know the Philippines).

I continue to be amazed and honored that people find this paper useful, given that it had its genesis as a lowly dissertation chapter from my 2003 Ph.D. dissertation

Much of the article is about migration from Kerala, India. It turns out I’ve also done work on migrants from Kerala, in collaboration with Ganesh Seshan (Georgetown SFS-Qatar).