Geographies in Depth

Migrant workers sent more money to India than any other country last year

People from India's northeastern states, walk at the platform upon their return from southern Indian states, at the railway station in Guwahati in the northeastern Indian state of Assam August 18, 2012. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured migrants from the northeast that they were safe as thousands fled Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities on Friday, fearing a backlash from violence against Muslims in Assam. REUTERS/Utpal Baruah (INDIA - Tags: TRANSPORT CIVIL UNREST RELIGION POLITICS) - GM1E88I150301

For smaller countries remittances make up a much higher percentage of GDP. Image: REUTERS/Utpal Baruah

Simon Torkington
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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India sends more workers abroad than any other country. According to data from the United Nations, there were almost 17 million Indians working overseas in 2017.

With such a huge number of people earning a living outside their own country, it’s perhaps not surprising that Indians also top the ranking for remittances sent to families back home.

Image: World Bank/KNOMAD

The World Bank compiled the chart above using data from the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development. It shows Indian migrant workers sent home almost $79bn in 2018. China was the second largest recipient of remittances, with $67bn sent back by 10 million overseas workers.

In itself, the $79bn Indians sent home in remittances is a huge sum of money, but it is equal to just 2.7% of India’s GDP, according to data from KNOMAD.

For smaller countries, remittances make up a much higher percentage of GDP.

The chart below uses data from the World Bank to rank the countries that are most dependent on remittances. Kyrgyzstan received $2.5bn in remittances in 2017, but that relatively small figure amounted to more than a third of the nation’s GDP. Nepal took in $6.9bn in remittances, making up 29% of the country’s overall economic output.

Image: Statista

Remittances to low and middle-income countries reached a record high in 2018, according to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief.

The Bank estimates remittances to these countries reached $529 billion in 2018, an increase of 9.6% over the previous record high of $483 billion in 2017. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, reached $689 billion in 2018, up from $633 billion in 2017.

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Geographies in DepthJobs and the Future of Work
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