Remittances, an Economic Lifeline for Some Peruvian Households, Small Businesses

By Jana, Elsa Chanduvi | NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs, May 30, 2014 | Go to article overview

Remittances, an Economic Lifeline for Some Peruvian Households, Small Businesses


Jana, Elsa Chanduvi, NotiSur - South American Political and Economic Affairs


Down slightly in 2013, remittances--money sent home by people living and working abroad--continue to be a key source of revenue for many Peruvian households.

Overall, Peru received an estimated US$2.7 billion in remittances last year, 3% less than in 2012, according to the Banco Central de Reserva del Peru (BCRP). The decrease is attributed to ongoing economic difficulties facing the countries in which many expatriated Peruvians reside.

Nearly 2.5 million Peruvians moved abroad between 1990 and 2012. Roughly 90% took up residence in the US, Spain, Argentina, Italy, Chile, Japan, and Venezuela, according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas e Informatica (INEI). More than 70% of the people who left Peru--a majority of them women--did so in search of better economic opportunities.

"They look for better living conditions abroad. That's because in Peru, 80% of the jobs aren't formal. Also, we have the second-lowest minimum wage [roughly US$268 per month] in Latin America," Alberto Adrianzen, a member of the Parlamento Andino, explained during a March forum titled "La migracion femenina: Agenda y Desafios. Dialogos," (Feminine migration: Agenda and Challenges. Dialogues).

"The migrants, among whom there is a high percentage of university-educated people and professionals, tend to be between the ages of 15 and 49. They travel sometimes as wives and sometimes as heads of households," Adrianzen added.

The top destination for Peruvian migrants (31.5%) is the US, which is also the leading source of remittances (34.5%), followed by Spain (12.4%), Japan (8.9%), and Italy (7.8%). Together, migrants living in those four countries contribute 64% of all the money sent back to Peru. On average, Peruvians sent approximately US$350 per month last year, up from US$215 per month in 2010. As a whole, remittances are equal to more than 22% of all foreign investment in Peru.

Dangers and limitations

"Women contribute 52% of the remittances by sending home almost half of what they earn. Men, in contrast, send 14% [of their income]," sociologist Diana Miloslavic Tupac of the Centro de la Mujer Peruana Flora Tristan said during the female-migration forum, which took place March 18 in Lima. Just over half the people (50.4%) who emigrated from Peru between 1994 and 2009 were women, the sociologist also explained.

Overall, 52.7% of Peruvians living abroad are women, according to the Primera Encuesta Mundial a la Comunidad Peruana en el Exterior, an international survey carried out in 2012. Approximately 41% of the people included in the survey said their principal motive for leaving Peru was to improve their economic situation. Others said they did so for family reasons (21.1%) or because they were unemployed (12.5%).

Miloslavic spoke about the difficulties women face in trying to enter the labor market. For the most part, she explained, they are limited to service-related jobs such as nursing, child care, caring for the elderly, cooking, and house cleaning. "As if that weren't enough, they are also exposed to dangers and risks throughout the migratory process, when they can be victims of human trafficking, robbed, abandoned, and sexually abused," she added (NotiSur, Jan. 31, 2003).

Unfortunately, little is being done in Peru to address those problems, according to Belisa Gadea of the Colectivo de Peruanos-Retornados PeruMIGRA, who also spoke during the forum. "It's not right that many female migrants are mistreated and sometimes even expelled from certain countries and that, here, nothing's being done about it.... They need psychological support, which should be provided by the authorities of the state," she said.

Pushing down poverty

The sociologist and feminist Miloslavic bases her numbers on a study carried out by Universidad del Pacifico economist Jurgen Schuldt, who looked specifically at remittances sent between 2006 and 2010. …

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