Understanding the continuing effect of the
economic crisis on remittances to Latin America
and the Caribbean
August 10th, 2009
1 The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect an official
position of the Inter‐American Development Bank.
This report presents fieldwork research and results of a nationwide survey of Latin American and
Caribbean migrants on how the economic crisis is affecting their economic situation and their ability to
send remittances. The study shows that difficulties are mounting for migrants who send money home to
take care of their families, and it estimates that in 2009 flows to Latin America may drop by 11% over
In total, approximately 4 million people across Latin America and the Caribbean will receive less money
from their family members abroad. From the data, it is clear that migrants are seeking to cope with the
crisis by using their savings, as well as economizing on other expenditures and looking for new or second
jobs. The findings show that that a small percentage is considering returning to their countries of origin
within five years, but their return is focused mostly on reuniting with their families, not on the U.S.
We highlight some questions about the future of remittance transfers and how migrants will come out
of this recession, and we advance some recommendations of measures that can be adopted to cope
with the current situation.
About the study
This report is based on a random survey, desktop research and statistical analysis of migration patterns
and unemployment, as well as individual interviews with migrants in the U.S. The survey was conducted
between March and June 2009 of 1350 Latino migrants who send remittances.3 The questionnaire
included a total of 38 ques