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Immigrants Are Sending More Money Back To Less Poor Countries

More and more people are sending money from places like the United States to places like the Dominican Republic, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center.

Last month, my blog mate Kat Chow wrote about a New Jersey lottery winner named Pedro Quezada who sent a staggering $57 million of his winnings back to the Dominican Republic, where his family lives. Let's ignore the sheer dollar amount for a second to look at the larger global trend that Quezada represents: the growing amount of money flowing from high-income nations to what the World Bank classifies as "middle-income" nations.

Seventy percent of all "remittances" — the money that migrants send back to their countries of origin — goes to middle-income nations like the Dominican Republic, India and Mexico, according to a newly released Pew study that crunched numbers from the World Bank. (The World Bank classifies countries as middle-income if their per capita annual incomes fall between $1,036 and $12,615.) There are a few reasons for this: There are more middle-income nations in the world than before; those nations have more people in them; and more of those people are migrating to wealthier places.

Those immigrants are also heading to new destinations. In 1990, nations like Ukraine and India were among the countries with the world's largest immigrant populations. But they're not in the top 10 today, having been supplanted by places like the United Arab Emirates and Australia. (The United States had a far larger immigrant population than any country in the world, both then and now.)

But while those middle-income nations are getting a larger share of the remittance pie, that pie has been expanding — and fast. In the years since 2000, the amount of total dollars of remittances in the global economy has nearly tripled: it's now almost $529 billion. $529 BILLION.

Just look at that chart on the left (or above, if you're reading on a small screen).

Remittances to low- and middle-income nations are three times higher than the total foreign aid those countries receive.

Remittances are such a big part of the global economy that the World Bank considers them when it judges a nation's creditworthiness, as Pew notes in its report. The World Bank predicts the amount of money immigrants send abroad will grow to $700 billion by 2016.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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