Migration and household finances: How a different framing can improve thinking about migration | MA Clemens, TN Ogden | Development Policy Review

It is time to reframe fundamentally the research agenda on migration, remittances, payments and development. Many policy‐makers in the developing world, and researchers, tend to view migrant remittances as windfall income, rather than as returns on investment, which is how families with migrants tend see remittances. Migration is thus, among other things, a strategy for financial management in poor households: location is an asset, migration an investment. We propose that this shift of perspective on remittances—from windfall to return on investment—leads to more fruitful research questions. Methods Reviewing the literature, we summarize the research questions that have dominated the literature on migration and remittances and why, owing largely to unhelpful perspectives, they lead us to less informative answers. Findings We suggest 12 new and alternative research questions that have received relatively little attention in the literature on migration and remittances, to spur new, more productive research. Policy Implications Migrant remittances are now several times larger than foreign aid. The effects of migration regulation and financial regulation on remittances have directly and significantly affect poverty and human security worldwide. But some of the most basic questions about remittances and their effects remain inadequately answered, in part because of a blinded research agenda. Asking better questions is a step toward better policies, programs and regulations and, above all, to enable people on low incomes to improve their lives.

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