“Money Flows: The Political Dependency of Financial Remittances,” Catherine De Vries, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
AMERICAN & COMPARATIVE POLITICAL BEHAVIOR WORKSHOP
Abstract: Scholars and policymakers have long been preoccupied with how the steady increase in global migration - one of the most significant global trends in recent history - affects politics and growth in migrants’ home countries. One of the most enduring arguments in this literature holds that migrants’ remittances – the money send home to their families - act as an important risk-sharing mechanism between poorer and richer countries. Yet, this view assumes that remittance payments either remain stable over time, or that they increase in response to negative shocks in migrant sending economies. Remarkably little systematic research examines what happens when remittances suddenly change. This is a significant gap, since fluctuations in financial remittances - currently three times the size of all global aid flows combined - affect the livelihood of households in developing economies around the world. During the Great Recession of 2008-2010 for example, economic contraction in migrant host economies became a channel through which the crisis was transmitted to poorer, migrant sending economies, not mitigated. This raises the question if the increased dependence of poorer countries on richer ones through remittance payments supports the demand for accountable government in developing countries, or weakens it? The central contention of this study is that the increase in financial remittances, which accompanies global migration flows, dampens support for political accountability in the developing world. Drawing on evidence from Central-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, this study sheds new light on how remittances affect the political attitudes and behaviour of remittance recipients (migrants’ family members who are left behind) on the one hand, and government incentives to respond to the needs of their constituents on the other.
Catherine E. De Vries is a Westendijk Chair and Professor of Political Behaviour in Europe at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where she also acts as the Director of the VU Interdisciplinary Center for European Studies. In addition, she is an Associate Member of Nuffield College, University of Oxford and an affiliated Professor of Political Science at the University of Essex. Finally, she serves a scientific advisor the eupinions project of the Bertelsmann Foundation and as a board member of the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
The American & Comparative Political Behavior Workshop series is sponsored by the ISPS Center for the Study of American Politics and The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale with support from the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund.