The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Jihad Dagher, Ralph Chami, Peter Montiel, and Yasser Abdih
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper addresses the complex and overlooked relationship between the receipt of workers' remittances and institutional quality in the recipient country. Using a simple model, we show how an increase in remittance inflows can lead to deterioration of institutional quality - specifically, to an increase in the share of funds diverted by the government for its own purposes. Empirical testing of this proposition is complicated by the likelihood of reverse causality. In a cross section of 111 countries we document a negative impact of the ratio of remittance inflows to GDP on domestic institutional quality, even after controlling for potential reverse causality. We find that a higher ratio of remittances to GDP is associated with lower indices of control of corruption, government effectiveness, and rule of law.