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Giving Back

Posted in Uncategorized by teslik on October 29, 2007

I came across this article in the Daily Star reporting that remittances accounted for a quarter of Lebanon’s 2006 GDP. I was curious for a little historical context so I looked up which countries have the highest remittances as a percentage of GDP, and how this has changed in recent years. See the chart below, which is from 2001 IMF data (note Lebanon doesn’t crack the top fifteen, though its 2006 levels would have ranked it second in 2001):

Country Total remittances
(in millions)1
(in millions)2
Total population3 Total remittances
as percentage of GDP
Total remittances
per capita
Lesotho 209.0 796.7 1,852,808 26.2 112.80
Vanuatu 53.3 212.8 192,910 25.0 276.14
Jordan 2,011.0 8,829.1 5,153,378 22.8 390.23
Bosnia and Herzegovina 860.1 4,769.1 3,922,205 18.0 219.29
Albania 699.0 4,113.7 3,510,484 17.0 199.12
Nicaragua 335.7 2,067.8 4,918,393 16.2 68.25
Yemen 1,436.9 9,177.2 17,479,206 15.7 82.21
Moldova (Republic of) 223.1 1,479.4 4,431,570 15.1 50.34
El Salvador 1,925.2 13,738.9 6,237,662 14.0 308.64
Jamaica 1,058.7 7,784.1 2,665,636 13.6 397.17
Dominican Republic 1,982.0 21,211.0 8,475,396 9.3 233.85
Philippines 6,366.0 71,437.7 81,369,751 8.9 78.24
Uganda 483.0 5,675.3 24,170,422 8.5 19.98
Honduras 541.0 6,385.8 6,357,941 8.5 85.09
Ecuador 1,420.0 17,982.4 13,183,978 7.9 107.71

Now, from a graphic in the Economist, here’s the data from 2006.


I find it interesting both that the list has shifted so substantially–only one country from the 2001 top-ten, Moldova, remains in the top ten of the 2006 list. Also, note that every country in the 2006 top ten has a higher level of remittances/GDP than the country with the highest ratio in 2001. I’m curious to determine whether this is because GDPs have fallen or remittance levels have risen.

(Footnotes to Chart 1)

1The remittance data presented in the above table are from IMF (International Monetary Fund), 2003, Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook 2002International Migration Statistics: Guidelines for Improving Data Collection Systems (Geneva: International Labour Office).
The source for the gross domestic product for each country is the World Bank website at The GDP data presented for all countries is for 2001 except the data for Nicaragua which is for 1998 and for Yemen which is for 2000.
3The source of the total population data for each country are estimates generated by the US Census Bureau (see The total population figures presented for all countries are for 2001, except Yemen which is for 2000. (Washington, DC, IMF Publications Services). “Total remittances” refers to the sum of the 1) workers’ remittances, 2) compensation to employees, and 3) migrant transfers reported by each country. The remittance data presented for all countries are for 2001, except the data for Yemen which are for 2000. For additional information on how remittances are defined and measured, see Chapter Seven in Bilsborrow et. al., 1997.

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