Money sent abroad by immigrants still growing


There has been a sharp increase in money being sent to Ireland by emigrants living abroad, according to World Bank figures. However, money being sent out of Ireland by foreign workers here is still far greater – more than three times as much.

Irish people living abroad sent more than $750 million (€560 million) back home in 2011. This figure has more than doubled since 2003, with the biggest increases recorded since 2009 when $573 million was sent here.

Foreign workers living in Ireland sent almost $2.4 billion home in 2011. Money sent out of Ireland peaked in 2008 at almost $2.8 billion. This fell to $2.35 billion in 2010 and has been increasing again.

In 2003, $788 million was sent out of Ireland.

Foreign workers

The steady flow of money out of Ireland despite the recession is down to the high number of foreign workers still here, especially from countries such as Nigeria, India and China, said Dilip Ratha, manager of the World Bank’s migration and remittances unit.

People from these countries were staying in Ireland because their visas were often inflexible, unlike EU nationals who could come and go, Mr Ratha added. As economies all over the world suffered, migrant workers in Ireland may be cutting back on living expenses to send money home to family.

Irish emigrants abroad could be sending more money home than it appeared but may not be recorded since the amounts could be small and below the threshold recorded by banks, Mr Ratha said.

Age profile

The age profile of Irish emigrants could also be a factor – younger people emigrating may not have dependent families at home to send money to.

The UK was the biggest destination for money from Ireland, at over $680 million in 2011. This was followed by Nigeria ($601 million) and Poland ($224 million).

The UK was also the biggest source of money coming into Ireland at $431 million, followed by the US at $144 million and Australia at $65 million.

The World Bank uses data from banks to assess inflows and outflows of migrants’ money. It then compares it against the number of foreign-born migrants in each country, the average income where they live and the cost of living of the recipient country.

Estimates for 2012 show money sent by migrants worldwide is over $530 billion. More than $400 billion has been sent to developing countries.

The countries estimated to have received the most money from emigrants in 2012 are India ($70 billion), China ($66 billion), followed by the Philippines and Mexico ($24 billion). As a percentage of GDP, the top recipient countries for 2011 were Tajikistan (47 per cent), Liberia (31 per cent), Kyrgyz Republic (29 per cent) and Lesotho (27 per cent).