Newly available data from several countries reveal that officially recorded remittance flows to developing countries reached $372 billion in 2011, an increase of 12.1 percent over 2010 (figure 1). Worldwide remittance flows, including those to high-income countries, reached $501 billion in 2011 and are expected to increase to $615 billion by 2014. This is higher than our
Major revisions to our December 2011 estimates include remittance flows to Egypt, India, China, and Thailand.
The reasons for an upward revision to Egypt’s data in 2010 (by $4.7 billion) and 2011 (by $6.2 billion) are not obvious but reflect a variety of factors including migrants returning from Libya, an increase in government T-bill rates, and falling housing prices that likely spurred housing purchases by Egyptians residing abroad. An upward revision to flows to India in 2011 (by $5.8 billion) is primarily due to a weak rupee and robust economic activity in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which are major destinations of recent migrants. China began to publish quarterly data on remittances for the first time in 2010. The latest data show a surge in remittances to China for the first three quarters of 2011. Similarly, Thailand revised its historical data on remittance flows upwards, including that for 2011 by $1.8 billion.
There is still uncertainty about data on remittance flows to Lebanon from 2010 onwards. Although the Central Bank of Lebanon reports that remittances to the country fell by more than 30% in 2010, there is no plausible story for such a big drop (recent political events in the region, especially in Syria, are likely to impact flows in 2012). For this reason, we have projected a flat trend for 2010 and 2011 for remittance flows to Lebanon until we have better information.