Globally, women account for about half of all international migrants and about half of the 21 million immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean in the US are women. In that region women play a central role as a sender/recipients and managers of remittances. Research in Guatemala has shown that 63 per cent of main remittance recipients are women, while in Colombia; they make up 70 per cent of the recipients[1]. In the case of Mexico a recent remittance study showed that women are the main group benefiting from remittances receiving almost three out of four remittances from the US.

The study[2] by the Center for Latin American Monetary Studies (CEMLA, the association of Latin American and Caribbean central banks) tries to introduce new evidence on the topic of women’s remittance sending and recipient behavior and provides an empirical analysis using a 2.9 million remittance transfers operations database from BANORTE, one of the Mexico’s main remittance payer banks. The sample represented one out of every 26 remittances received by Mexico considering that in 2013 Mexican remittances totalled US$21.9 billion, originating from 75 million transfers.

United States is the main destination for Mexican migrants. In 2013 Mexicans migrants accounted for 28 per cent of all immigrants in the United States and constituted the largest immigrant group in that country with more than 11.5 million[3]. Among this all-Mexican migrant, women amounted for 47 per cent.

Based on BANORTE’s database of remittance transfers it was identified that out of the 2.9 million remittances, women sent 30 per cent representing 27 per cent of the total value. The report also shows that women are the main group benefiting from remittances, receiving 72 per cent of all transfers and 67 per cent of the total resources sent.

Remittances sent by women are generally for a smaller amount than those sent by men, regardless of the gender of the receiver. Thus, according to the remittances study in 2013 the average remittance sent was 468 US dollars, but totaled 422 US dollars for those sent by women and 488 US dollars for those sent by men. However, one important result of the study is that the percentage of income earned by Mexican immigrant workers in the United States and sent to México in the form of remittances is the same for women and men. It means that although average earning of Mexican female immigrant workers are lower than those of men, their relative effort to send remittances is the same in both male and female.

Other interesting finding refers to financial inclusion and remittances. In this case Mexico doubles the global average of account penetration, measured as percentage of remittances deposited in a bank account. The Global Findex Database of the World Bank showed that in the Latin America and the Caribbean region only 9 percent of all adults reported having used their account to receive remittances in the past 12 months.  CEMLA’s research revealed that the percentage in Mexico totalled 18 per cent. Finally the report revealed that the percentage of remittances deposited in a bank account was higher when they were sent by men rather than by women (19 per cent versus 16 per cent).

[1] IOM International Organization for Migration
[2] Female migration and remittance flows to Mexico. http:/www.cemla-remesas.org/principios/pdf/201501-FemaleMigration.pdf
[3] Source: 2013 American Community Survey for the United States, and “Trends in International Migrant Stock: Migrants by Destination and Origin”

This article was first published by the World Bank’s People Move blog. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Authors: Paloma Monroy is a Senior Consultant on Migration, Remittances and Development. Jesus Cervantes is coordinator of the real sector and of the Remittances Forum at CEMLA.

Image: A Nicaraguan farm family waits for food during a march along the highway leading to Matagalpa. REUTERS/Oswaldo.