Financial and Monetary Systems

Migrant workers sent home almost $800 billion in 2022. Which countries are the biggest recipients?

Not all remittances are sent from rich to less well-off nations.

Not all remittances are sent from rich to less well-off nations. Image: Unsplash/ Christine Roy

Douglas Broom
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Financial and Monetary Systems?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Financial and Monetary Systems is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Financial and Monetary Systems

Listen to the article

  • The amount of money sent home by migrant workers surged to an expected $794 billion in 2022, the World Bank says.
  • The cash is a lifeline for people in low and middle-income countries, and it’s the biggest contributor to some nations’ economies.
  • But flows are at risk in 2023 from a further escalation of the war in Ukraine, and the possibility of a deeper-than-expected recession in the developed world.

Money sent home by migrant workers is a lifeline to people in low and middle-income nations, and new data shows that the amount sent to these countries in 2022 is estimated to have risen by almost 5% to $626 billion.

Not all remittances are sent from rich to less well-off nations. The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused the amount of money sent home by Ukrainians living abroad to rise sharply, pushing total worldwide remittances to $794 billion, according to the World Bank.

If China is excluded from the calculation, remittances are the largest source of external finance in low and middle-income countries, exceeding the value of foreign direct investment and official development aid, the World Bank says.

A graph showing Remittances, Foreign Direct Investment, Portfolio Flows and Official Development Assistance Flows to Low- and Middle-Income Countries.
Remittances are a substantial source of external finance in low and middle-income countries. Image: WorldBank/Knomad

Biggest remittances in 2022

The top five nations for remittances in 2022 are expected to be India (topping $100 billion for the first time), Mexico ($60 billion), China ($51 billion), the Philippines ($38 billion) and Egypt ($32 billion).

Mexico is seen overtaking China – which was in second position in 2021 – partly as a result of the strength of the US dollar, the World Bank said. Pakistan received $29 billion while Bangladesh and Nigeria each received $21 billion.

Bar charts showing top recipients of remittances among low- and middle income countries.
Remittances make up a large share of GDP in many countries. Image: WorldBank/Knomad

Remittances contribute 50% of the GDP of Tonga, 38% of GDP in Lebanon, 34% in Samoa, 32% in Tajikistan, 31% in Kyrgyzstan and more than a fifth of GDP in Gambia, Honduras, El Salvador, Haiti and Nepal.

Migrants contribute massively to their origin countries by transferring financial and social remittances, encouraging trade linkages and making investments,” says the World Economic Forum report Migration and Its Impact on Cities.

Almost 8 million Ukranians have fled to the European Union since Russia attacked their homeland in February 2022, and the money they’ve sent home has boosted total remittances to countries in Europe and Central Asia by 10.3%.

At the same time, individual Russians and small companies that have relocated to neighbouring countries during the war have increased the inflow of roubles into those nations, the World Bank says.

Dollar and rouble strength affect remittances

The growth in remittances is evidence of migrants helping their families back home in troubled financial times, boosted by the reopening of businesses in host nations that had been forced to close by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the World Bank.

While inflation has eaten into the value of migrants’ earnings in some countries, the strengthening of some currencies – notably the US dollar and Russian rouble – increased the value of the money some were able to send home.

Future growth in remittances depends on the economic health of high-income nations, the Bank says.
Future growth in remittances depends on the economic health of high-income nations, the Bank says. Image: REUTERS/Tatiana Meel

The strength of the rouble – prompted by Moscow’s insistence that 80% of all Russian companies’ foreign earnings must be converted into the currency, as well as by surging oil prices – has boosted the value of remittances from Russia to countries in Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus.

Conversely, the weaker euro reduced the value of dollar-denominated payments from migrants in European countries. However the official figures may not tell the full story, according to both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Unofficial transfer routes

The true value of remittances may be up to 50% higher than the official figures suggest because people often prefer to use informal methods to send money that are not recorded by the authorities, the IMF says.

The World Bank’s analysis of the 2022 figures says that officially recorded remittance volumes have declined in countries that suffer from a shortage of foreign exchange and have multiple exchange rates, as people use alternative routes offering better exchange rates.

The cost of sending a $200 remittance to a low or middle-income country through officially approved routes averaged 6% of the total in the second quarter of 2022, it says. This was double the level set out in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.


How is the World Economic Forum improving the global financial system?

South Asia had the lowest transfer charges, averaging 4.1% while Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest at 7.8%.

Compliance costs around anti-money laundering also deterred migrants from using digital money transfer systems, the World Bank said.

Remittance trends

Future growth in remittances depends on the economic health of high-income nations, the Bank says. It predicts that the growth rate will slow to 2% in 2023, and says there are substantial risks to this vital flow of money from the rich world to less well-off nations.

In particular, the Bank highlights the risks from a further escalation of the war in Ukraine, oil price and exchange rate volatility, and the possibility of a deeper-than-expected recession in the developed world.

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Financial and Monetary SystemsChina
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

IMF says global economy 'remains remarkably resilient', and other economics news

Joe Myers

April 19, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum