The Remittance Behavior of Immigrant Households: Micronesians in Hawaii and Guam

The Remittance Behavior of Immigrant Households: Micronesians in Hawaii and Guam

The Remittance Behavior of Immigrant Households: Micronesians in Hawaii and Guam

The Remittance Behavior of Immigrant Households: Micronesians in Hawaii and Guam

Synopsis

Elizabeth M. Grieco is a Data Manager at the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think-tank in Washington, D.C.

Excerpt

Since the 1970s, remittances from migrants to Australia, New Zealand, and the United States have played a growing and important role in the economies of Pacific Island countries. Migrant remittances provide capital-poor countries with foreign exchange, ease balance-of-payment problems, encourage industrial development by facilitating the import of capital goods and raw materials, and contribute to employment (Russell 1986; Menjivar et al. 1998). Remittances represent an important component of the total national incomes of many Pacific Island countries, including Tonga, Western Samoa, and the Cook Islands. For example, in the early 1980s, remittances contributed between 35 and 40 percent of the Cook Islands’ total income (Connell 1980), while in 1989, remittances represented approximately 60 percent of the Tongan and 35 percent of the Western Samoan gross domestic product (Appleyard and Stahl 1995). Remittances also benefit individual recipients by raising and maintaining living standards and reducing the gap between higher-income and lower-income groups (Menjivar et al. 1998; Russell 1986). There is also evidence from many Pacific Island countries that remittances form a significant part of disposable household income (Connell 1980; Appleyard and Stahl 1995). For example, a national income and expenditure survey in Tonga showed that 90 percent of the households received remittances and that remittances constituted an average of 28 percent of household income (Ahlburg 1991; Brown 1998).

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