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News | 16 June 2022

International Day of Family Remittances: supporting more accurate estimates on remittance flows

A new JRC Technical Report published in the occasion of the International Day of Family Remittances explores how data on social connections between migrants and their contacts in their countries of origin could help explain the volume of remittance flows. In doing so, the report highlights an opportunity for the refinement of international statistics on remittances.  

Migrant remittances - the money that migrants send back to their families and friends in their countries of origin - are a major source of finance for countries and households around the world.  

The EU has several initiatives, which aim to facilitate and lower the cost of sending remittances and which support their development impact in the receiving countries.  

Having good data on remittance flows is important to plan, implement and monitor these and other initiatives. It is also vital for following progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

However, the currently available international data on remittance flows contains some gaps.  

The new report shows that the incorporation of data on migrants’ social connections into the current calculations of remittance flows can potentially refine the accuracy of remittance flow estimates and forecasts.  

The report also highlights the opportunity provided by innovative data which has not be harnessed for analysing and estimating remittance flows on a global level before.  

This is confirmed by an analysis of data from Facebook Connectedness Index, which provides information on connections between people in different countries (via Facebook) on a scale which has not been previously possible with other research approaches.  

Incorporating Facebook data on the connections between people in different countries into a model with data on the migrant population and economic and geographic variables leads to stronger explanations of the scale of bilateral remittance flows.

In light of these findings, the report proposes further reflection and exploration of the ways in which innovative data on connections between migrants and their countries and communities of origin can explain the scale of remittance flows and feed into future estimate calculations. 

The report points to numerous potential avenues to explore, including the use of air passenger data, as well as data from mobile money transfer services and Google trends.