Remittances by Country: Top 5 Sources and Destinations
- Published: 29th November 2022
In today’s state of globalization and the advantages that the internet brings, more and more people either move abroad for work or work for foreign companies in their home countries. This brings about a consistent increase in international money transfers worldwide. In fact, data on remittances by country shows that the worldwide remittance flows in 2021 grew by 8.6% compared to 2020, reaching $605 billion.
Monetary gifts from expats to their friends and family back home are responsible for significantly larger shares of this figure than payments. Check out the stats below to find out details about the countries with the biggest remittance inflows in the world, rankings based on remittance as a percentage of countries’ GDP and absolute figures, and more.
Remittances by Country as a Percentage of Their GDP
In some developing countries, remittances are among the most significant economic drivers. Unlike the economies of developed countries, which mainly rely on public expenditures, exports, and business investments, the economies of these countries are heavily supported by the money that expats send back home. Here are the five countries where remittances account for the largest percentage of their GDPs.
1. Lebanon (54%)
With $6.6 billion in remittance inflow, Lebanon is the third-highest recipient of remittances in the MENA region as of 2021. Remittance by country statistics reveal that only Egypt and Morocco received more remittances than Lebanon that year. Additionally, Lebanon has been facing a terrible financial crisis since 2019, which decreased its economy by 58%, and reduced its budget from $52 billion to $21.8 billion in 2021. As a result, remittances play a bigger role than ever in Lebanon.
(Knomad, The National News)
2. Tonga (44%)
The total remittances inflow in Tonga for 2021 was $220 million, while the country’s GDP was $500 million. In addition to being among the countries where remittances account for the biggest share of GDP, Tonga also tops the remittances by country per capita lists. According to a recent survey, 83% of the households in Tonga receive money from abroad, predominantly from workers working under seasonal employment schemes in Australia and New Zealand.
(Knomad, Dev Policy)
3. Tajikistan (34%)
$2.922 billion was the total remittance inflow that entered Tajikistan in 2021. In addition to accounting for more than one-third of the country’s GDP, the value of these remittances is 204.8% higher than Tajikistan’s earnings from exports of goods and services. The stats also show that 58% of the entire remittance inflow in Tajikistan in 2021 was money sent from Russia, which is expected to decline as of 2022 due to the Russo-Ukrainian war.
4. Kyrgyzstan (33%)
When observing remittances as a percentage of GDP by country, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan are in a very similar situation. The remittance inflow received by Kyrgystan in 2021 is $2.798 billion, and 82% of this money was sent from Russia. Before the war in Ukraine started, projections estimated that Tajikistan’s remittance inflow would increase by 3%, but now forecasts show that it will decline by 32% instead.
5. Samoa (32%)
In 2021, the total remittance inflow received by Samoa was $606.4 million, accounting for almost a third of the country’s GDP of $2.19 billion. Compared to the numbers from 2020, remittances sent to Samoa increased by 16.4%, or by $74.9 million, in 2021, and current data indicates that they will keep increasing in 2022, as well.
(Knomad, Samoa Observer)
Top Remittance-Receiving Countries
In countries with larger populations, remittances don’t have such a massive impact on the GDPs, but they are surely appreciated by the families that receive them. Some of these countries have enormous diasporas who support their close ones financially from abroad. Here are the top five countries with the largest amounts of remittances received in absolute value.
1. India ($89 billion)
India is traditionally among the countries that receive huge amounts of remittances, though, in 2021, it ranked number one with a great margin. So much, in fact, that the money sent to India accounted for 14.71% of the total global remittances that year.
Moreover, India’s remittance inflow increased by 8% compared to the $82.73 billion it received in 2020. Data analysis suggests that this growth can be attributed to the rupee’s declining value against the dollar and the low costs of remitting to South Asia. The global average cost of sending $200 is 6%, which compares to 4.3% for sending money to a country in the South Asian region.
(Knomad, Tribune India)
2. Mexico ($54 billion)
After experiencing an amazing 25% growth, remittances to Mexico reached a figure large enough to overtake China as the world’s second-highest recipient, according to the money transfers by country statistics of 2021. Data also shows that this was the biggest remittance inflow growth Mexico has seen in the last 18 years.
Interestingly, a total of 11.6 million transactions were made from the US to Mexico in 2021, and 99% of them were bank transfers. Cash transactions only accounted for 0.5%, or $253 million. Finally, the average remittance sent to Mexico in 2021 was $401.
3. China ($53 billion)
China’s remittance inflow saw an 11% decrease in 2021, going down to $53 billion from $60 billion in 2020. One year before, in 2019, remittances in China reached their all-time peak at $70 billion, but it has been downhill from there.
Worldwide money remittance statistics best illustrate just how big of a slump China’s remittance inflow is experiencing. Namely, with China in the picture, remittances in the East Asia and Pacific region declined by 3.3% in 2021. However, if China is excluded, the stats suggest a 2.5% growth in the region.
(Knomad, World Population Review)
4. Philippines ($37 billion)
In contrast to China, remittances to the Philippines grew by 4.3% in 2021. The stats on remittances by country show that close 41% of the total remittance inflow of the Philippines comes from the USA. As a result, forecasts predict that the country’s inward remittances should continue growing at a 4.4% rate in 2022 and a rate of between 3.6% and 4.5% in 2023.
5. Egypt ($32 billion)
The inward flow of remittances that entered Egypt in 2021 is by far the largest in the North Africa and Middle East region and accounts for 51% of its total remittance inflow. Data suggests that remittances sent to Egypt that year were 6.4% higher than in 2020. As a matter of fact, stats on global money transfers indicate that remittances are growing all over this region, recording a respectable 7.6% growth in aggregate.
The Bottom Line
Remittances play a big role in today’s global economy, supporting the growth of both the birth countries and the ones where expats migrate to work.
The five top remittance-sending countries from which expats transfer money to their homelands include:
- United States ($74 billion)
- Saudi Arabia ($40 billion)
- China ($22 billion)
- Russia ($16 billion)
- Luxembourg ($15 billion)
Aware of the mutual benefits, there are more and more countries that are trying to open themselves to migrant workers and welcome them into their workforces. As a result, global remittance flows for 2022 are expected to grow by another 4.2% to $630 billion.
An internship in a digital marketing agency during her freshman year of university got Tina into SEO. A decade later, she’s utilizing her educational background in English and knack for research to craft website content on anything from marketing and tech to finance and crypto. When she’s not investigating ways to dominate SERPs, you’ll find her randomly roaming cities and sunny coasts all over the world.