This paper reviews the empirical literature on the relationship between
remittances and various dimensions of social development in the
developing world within a broader conceptual framework of migration and
development theory. Migration and remittances are generally part of
risk-spreading and co-insurance livelihood strategies pursued by
households and families. Migration and remittances also have the
potential to improve well-being, stimulate economic growth and reduce
poverty directly and indirectly, while their effects on inequality are
much more ambiguous.
The significant empirical and theoretical advances that have been made
over the past several decades highlight the fundamentally heterogeneous
nature of migration-remittance-development interactions, as well as
their contingency on spatial and temporal scales of analysis, which
should forestall any blanket assertions on this issue.
Notwithstanding their often considerable blessings for individuals,
households and communities, migration and remittances are no panacea for
solving more structural development problems. If states fail to
implement general social and economic reform, migration and remittances
are unlikely to contribute to nationwide sustainable development.
Migrants and remittances can neither be blamed for a lack of development
nor be expected to trigger takeoff development in generally unattractive
investment environments. Therefore, policies aimed at increasing
people's welfare, creating functioning markets, improving social
security and public services such as health and education are also
likely to enhance the contribution that migration and remittances can
make to social development.
Social Policy and Development Programme Paper No. 34, UNRISD, Geneva, Switzerland, 44 pp.
Remittances, Migration and Social Development: A Conceptual Review of Literature