Defying the Odds: Remittances during the COVID-19 Pandemic

This paper provides an early assessment of the dynamics and drivers of remittances during the COVID-19 pandemic, using a newly compiled monthly remittance dataset for a sample of 52 countries, of which 16 countries have bilateral remittance data. The paper documents a strong resilience in remittance flows, notwithstanding an unprecedent global recession triggered by the pandemic. Using the local projection approach to estimate the impulse response functions of remittance flows during January 2020–December 2020, the paper provides evidence that: (i) remittances responded positively to COVID-19 infection rates in migrant home countries, underscoring its role as an important automatic stabilizer; (ii) stricter containment measures have the unintended consequence of dampening remittances; and (iii) a shift from informal to formal remittance channels due to travel restrictions appears to have also played a role in the surge in formal remittances. Lastly, the size of the fiscal stimulus in the host country is positively associated with remittance flows to migrants’ home country as the fiscal response cushioned the economic impact of the pandemic.

Kpodar K., Mlachila M., Quayyum S. & Gammadigbe V. (2022) Defying the Odds: Remittances during the COVID-19 Pandemic, The Journal of Development Studies.