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.
Mr. Kangni R Kpodar, Mr. Montfort Mlachila, Mr. Saad N Quayyum, and Vigninou Gammadigbe
This paper provides an early assessment of the dynamics and drivers of remittances during the COVID-19 pandemic, using a newly compiled monthly remittance dataset for a sample of 52 countries, of which 16 countries with bilateral remittance data. The paper documents a strong resilience in remittance flows, notwithstanding an unprecedent global recession triggered by the pandemic. Using the local projection approach to estimate the impulse response functions of remittance flows during Jan 2020-Dec 2020, the paper provides evidence that: (i) remittances responded positively to COVID-19 infection rates in migrant home countries, underscoring its role as an important automatic stabilizer; (ii) stricter containment measures have the unintended consequence of dampening remittances; and (iii) a shift from informal to formal remittance channels due to travel restrictions appears to have also played a role in the surge in formal remittances. Lastly, the size of the fiscal stimulus in host countries is positively associated with remittances as the fiscal response cushions the economic impact of the pandemic.