Remittances to Latin America Rebound–Except in Mexico

Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times, November 15, 2013

The amount of money U.S. immigrants send to their families in Latin America has more than doubled since 2000, and the cash flow home–except to Mexico–has recovered from a considerable drop during the Great Recession, a 13-year survey of remittance trends shows.

For years, remittances have far outpaced foreign aid in helping lift people out of poverty in Latin America, the study released Friday by Pew Research Center notes.

In 2011, remittances totaled $53.1 billion, more than eight times the amount of official aid, the report says.

More than half of those immigrating from Spanish-speaking countries–54%–send part of their U.S. earnings home, and 17% of U.S.-born Latinos also maintain financial lifelines to relatives abroad, the Pew research shows.

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Money transfers to the 17 Latin American countries surveyed have picked up over the last four years, on course to reach $53.8 billion by the end of this year. But that figure remains 13% below the pre-recession peak of $61.6 billion in 2007, Pew reported.

For Mexico, the recession’s effect has been even more lingering, with this year’s expected remittance intake of $22 billion still down 29% from the 2006 peak. The decline apparently reflects the drop in Mexican immigration to the United States.

Other findings highlighted by the study:

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— Remittances accounted for the highest percentage of GDP in El Salvador (16.5%), Honduras (15.7%) and Guatemala 10%).

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— The United States is the largest remitting nation worldwide, sending $123.3 billion abroad in 2012. {snip}

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