Migration as a Strategy for Household Finance: A Research Agenda on Remittances, Payments, and Development

October 2013
By Michael Clemens and Timothy Ogden

Migration as a Strategy for Household Finance: A Research Agenda on Remittances, Payments, and Development
It is time to fundamentally reframe the research agenda on remittances, payments, and development. We describe many of the research questions that now dominate the literature and why they lead us to uninformative answers. We propose reasons why these questions dominate, the most important of which is that researchers tend to view remittances as states do (as windfall income) rather than as families do (as returns on investment). Migration is, among other things, a strategy for fi- nancial management in poor households: location is an asset, migration an invest- ment. This shift of perspective leads to much more fruitful research questions that have been relatively neglected. We suggest 12 such questions.