Remittance families’ contributions towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Two years ago, the United Nations issued a call to action to eradicate poverty, end hunger, and reduce social and economic inequality in its many forms: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This comprehensive undertaking affirms the need to reach 17 specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and pledges the support of all the 193 Member States.
For their part, 200 million remittance families are already engaged in this effort. They subscribe to many core SDGs through their daily lives and their aspirations for the future. Remittance families have their own individual goals: reduced poverty, better health and nutrition, education opportunities, improved housing and sanitation, and entrepreneurship, among others. They can also deal with uncertainty by increasing their savings and acquiring assets to ensure a more stable future.

At the household level: SDGs 1-5

How remittance families contribute to the goal
Migrants move from rural to urban areas and across international borders to overcome poverty.

  • Remittances typically more than double a family’s disposable income and help deal with uncertainty, allowing families to build assets.
  • Analyses of 78 developing countries show significant poverty reduction effects of remittances: a 1 per cent increase in per capita remittances leads to a 3.5 per cent decline in the share of poor people in the population.

How remittance families contribute to the goal
The growing lack of economic opportunity in rural areas deters sustainable food production.

  • Investment of migrants’ income in agricultural activities are creating employment opportunities.
  • With additional income, receiving households increase their demand for food and improve nutrition, particularly among children and the elderly.
  • Demand for food increases domestic food production.

How remittance families contribute to the goal

  • Remittances are invested in health care, improving the health and well-being of families.
  • This additional source of income improves healthy lifestyles through access to medicine, preventive care and health insurance products.
  • Household surveys in several developing countries indicate that infants born into remittance families have a higher birthweight and are less likely to die during their first year.

How remittance families contribute to the goal
One of the main reasons migrants send money home is to ensure access to better education for their children.

  • Remittance-receiving households have demonstrably better educational participation and outcomes.
  • Remittance households are able to invest about one tenth of their income in educating their children.
  • Children, especially girls, register higher school attendance, enrolment rates and additional years in school.
  • Research indicates that remittances lead to an almost doubling of school enrolment
  • Remittances substantially reduce the probability of child labor participation.

How remittance families contribute to the goal
Women migrant workers now comprise half of all remittance senders: 100 million in total.

  • Remittances have transformed the economic role of women both on the sending side and the receiving end through financial independence and better employment opportunities.
  • While women remit approximately the same amount as men, research suggests that women tend to send a higher proportion of their income regularly and consistently, even though they generally earn less than men.

At the local level: SDGs 6 and 13

How remittance families contribute to the goal
To create social capital and pool funds to address local needs, migrants and/or their families often organize themselves into neighbourhood organizations in their communities or through Hometown Associations (HTAs) abroad.

  • HTAs identify priorities for development and participate in their achievement though technical advice and fund-raising. They typically focus on social services, infrastructure, and primary needs such as clean water, education and health.
  • Projects are designed by taking into account sustainability concerns and community welfare (e.g. the provision of irrigation or solar energy).

How remittance families contribute to the goal
Migration is increasingly becoming a consequence of climate change.

  • Remittances and diaspora investment are mitigating negative impacts and helping to cope with income shortages due to weather-related shocks.
  • Remittances enable the adoption of more sustainable crops and non-farm activities. Examples include: support to local enterprises to provide solutions for flood control, more efficient use of water, improved irrigation systems, storm/heat/wind-resilient building materials, and the accessibility of drought-resistant seeds, among others.

At the national level: SDGs 8 and 10

How remittance families contribute to the goal

  • Money held by remittance-receiving families and migrants’ savings in host countries improves financial resources available to the general economy. Capital can be maximized when coupled with financial and entrepreneurial services.
  • Migrant workers possess tremendous assets: knowledge, skills and networks.
  • In terms of development impact, migrants’ investment in micro, small or medium enterprises can be a highly effective way of creating jobs and generating income in local communities.

How remittance families contribute to the goal

  • Reducing the cost of remittance transfers can substantially increase disposable income for remittance-receiving families.
  • Civil society efforts are achieving progress in promoting better working conditions for migrant workers.


The international community is now recognizing that remittances are a vital source of support for hundreds of millions of people across the globe. Through such initiatives as the Global Compact for Migration, the contributions of millions
of migrant workers will be strengthened, to the benefit of their families and the communities where they live.