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.
Remittance flows appear to be falling worldwide for the first time in decades as a result of the ongoing financial turmoil. It is suspected that the drop in remittance income into developing and emerging markets will have a destabilizing effect on these economies. The paper estimates the impact of remittances on output stability for countries that are dependent on these income flows. Using a sample of 70 countries, including 16 advanced economies and 54 developing countries, we find robust evidence that remittances have a negative effect on output growth volatility of recipient countries. This result supports the notion that remittance flows are a stabilizing influence on output. Thus, the fall in remittances precipitated by the ongoing global financial crisis could potentially increase output variability in recipient countries. This would present a hard challenge for governments in those countries already suffering from the crisis: they must resort to an already stressed and limited set of policy instruments, such as fiscal policy, to counter the resulting adverse economic and social impacts of lower remittances.