• Global remittance flows have shown more resilience than expected during COVID-19, particularly for low and middle-income countries.
  • World Bank data shows that global remittances are expected to total $702 billion in 2020, which is a drop from the $719 billion recorded in 2019.
  • India is expected to have received the most - at $83.1 billion.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, global remittance flows have proven more resilient than expected. This is especially true for inflows to low and middle-income countries.

According to new World Bank data, global remittances are expected to total $702 billion in 2020, down from $719 billion in 2019 (-2.4 percent). Of that total, $540 billion are expected to have flown into low and middle-income countries, down from $548 billion (-1.6 percent).

While total remittance inflow was down, some countries actually increased it during the crisis quite substantially. Among them are Mexico, the third-biggest remittance recipient in the world, as well as Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh, the global numbers five, six and eight. Among developing nations, India and the Philippines had some of the smallest losses in 2020 compared to 2019, at 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

The Central Bank of the Philippines had earlier this year put remittance decrease in the country at 0.8 percent. While the numbers differs slightly, the uniformly coded World Bank data makes it possible to compared remittances between countries. The small decrease is unusual for the world's fourth largest remittance recipient: In the past ten years, remittance inflow to the Philippines had shown an annual increase of 3 to almost 9 percent.

Developed countries are also recipients of remittances, as the presence of France and Germany in the top 10 shows. Remittance inflows are typically less important to their economies, however. Remittances made up less than one percent of GDP in the two European countries, as well as in China, in 2020. In the rest of the top 10, this number ranged from 3 percent to almost 10 percent, the highest shares being exhibited by Pakistan (9.9 percent) and the Philippines (9.6 percent).

health and healthcare, COVID

How has the Forum navigated the global response to COVID-19?

One year on: we look back at how the Forum’s networks have navigated the global response to COVID-19.

Using a multistakeholder approach, the Forum and its partners through its COVID Action Platform have provided countless solutions to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, protecting lives and livelihoods.

Throughout 2020, along with launching its COVID Action Platform, the Forum and its Partners launched more than 40 initiatives in response to the pandemic.

The work continues. As one example, the COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs is supporting 90,000 social entrepreneurs, with an impact on 1.4 billion people, working to serve the needs of excluded, marginalized and vulnerable groups in more than 190 countries.

Read more about the COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, our support of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemics Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI), and the COVAX initiative and innovative approaches to solve the pandemic, like our Common Trust Network – aiming to help roll out a “digital passport” in our Impact Story.

The countries most reliant on remittance inflow in the World Bank ranking were Tonga (37.7 percent of GDP) as well as Somalia (35.3 percent of GDP) and Lebanon (32.9 percent of GDP).

a chart showing the world's top remittance recipients
India was the top remittance recipient in 2020.
Image: Statista