Ms. Alina Carare, Catherine Koh, and Mr. Yorbol Yakhshilikov
Undocumented migration from the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) to the United States has been steadily increasing over the past 30 years, accelerating at times. The paper investigates what factors could explain this fact, by estimating an investment decision model, using annual data over 1990-2019. Economic labor market conditions (real wages and unemployment rates, especially in the U.S.) play a major role in explaining undocumented migration. Less explored drivers of undocumented migration tied to living conditions at home also explain well undocumented migration (natural disasters, coffee production, higher temperatures, and homicide rates). Tighter border enforcement measures act as a deterrent, and perceptions regarding changes of these measures could also drive up undocumented migration at times. Policies that address the root causes of migration at home, including with the U.S. help, are essential in reducing the difference between perceived benefits and expected costs of migration.
Hee Soo Kim, Carlos Chaverri, Emilio William Fernandez Corugedo, and Pedro Juarros
Central America is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to extreme climate events. The literature estimates the macroeconomic effects of climate events mainly using annual data, which might underestimate the true effects as these extreme events tend to be short-lived and generate government and family support in response. To overcome this limitation, this paper studies Central American countries’ macroeconomic impact of climatic disasters using high-frequency (monthly) data over the period 2000-2019. We identify extreme climate events by defining dummy variables related to storm and flood events reported in the EM-DAT (Emergency Events Database) and estimate country-specific VAR and panel VAR. The results suggest that a climatic disaster drops monthly economic activity in most countries in the region of around 0.5 to 1 percentage points on impact, with persistent effects on the level of GDP. We show that even as extreme climate events were relatively less severe under our sample period, quantitative effects are similar or larger than previously estimated for the region. In addition, remittances (transfers from family living abroad) increase for most countries in response to a extreme climate event, acting as a shock absorber. The results are robust to controlling for the severity of the climate events, for which we construct a monthly climate index measuring severity of weather indicators by following the spirit of the Actuaries Climate Index (ACI).
Aleksandra Babii, Ms. Alina Carare, Dmitry Vasilyev, and Mr. Yorbol Yakhshilikov
Traditional models relying on standard variables like the U.S. Hispanic unemployment rate fared well in explaining remittances to CAPDR and Mexico during the pre-pandemic period. However, they fail to predict the sustained growth in remittances since June 2020, including the significant increase in the average amount remitted. Using data from over 300 remittances corridors (from 23 U.S. states to 14 Salvadoran departments), we find that this increase is primarily explained by the dynamics of U.S. states real wages, as well as more temporary factors like U.S. unemployment relief (including the extraordinary pandemic support), U.S. states mobility, and COVID-19 infections at home. The paper also analyses what role the change in the modes of transmission of remittances, additional U.S. fiscal stimulus and U.S. labor market developments, especially in the sectors were CAPDR and Mexican migrants preponderantly work, play in explaining aggregate remittances growth.
Jean François Clevy, Mr. Guilherme Pedras, and Mrs. Esther Perez Ruiz
The pandemic has urged countries around the globe to mobilize financing to support the recovery. This is even more relevant in Central America, where the policy response to cushion the pandemic’s economic and social impact has accentuated pre-existing debt vulnerabilities. This paper documents the potential for local currency bond markets to diversify and expand financing for the recovery, lowering bond yields, funding volatility, and exposure to global shocks. The paper further identifies priority actions, both national and regional, to support market development.