Foreign-born workers sent more than $500 billion back to their home countries in the developing world last year, as the economic recovery and generous government programs in areas such as the U.S. helped sustain a critical lifeline for poor nations still battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to fresh data from the World Bank, global remittances to low- and middle-income economies fell just 1.6% last year to $540 billion, defying expectations that the pandemic would squeeze overseas workers’ ability to earn and send money to relatives in their home countries.
The U.S. was the largest source country for migrant remittances in 2020, at $68 billion, according to the World Bank. Most of that amount went to low- and middle-income countries, with Mexico the biggest recipient.
Early in the pandemic, the bank expected 2020 remittances to decline by 20%; it later adjusted the forecast to a 14% drop in October.