Reverse Economic Remittances within Transnational Social Fields

Iulian Oană, Marian-Gabriel Hancean


The study of human migration has brought with itself the study of economic remittances – flows of money (and also goods) linking migrants and non-migrants, the migrant-host and migrant-sending countries. The literature is focused mainly on economic remittances sent from migrants to non-migrants and the reasoning behind this line of research can be understood, given that people migrate, in principal, for easing financial burdens. However, the research of migration employing a transnational framework has brought into attention complementary phenomena. Firstly, remittances take different forms, sending money (i.e., economic remittances) being just one aspect of people’s behavior. For example, the growing literature on ‘social’ remittances emphasize culture and takes interest into researching the circulation of values and norms inside transnational social fields. Secondly, remittances, irrespective of their form, do not have a single direction (from migrants to non-migrants), but they flow back and forth inside the field trough network ties. As a consequence, studies that use only individual level attributes, not controlling for possible effects which are beside these features (i.e., network effects), have their limits. Interconnecting the personal networks of 303 Romanians migrants in Spain (Castellón) as well as of their social contacts in the origin country (Romania, Dâmboviţa), we build a transnational social field (network of networks) with 4,855 nodes, 5,477 directed ties (nominations) and 2,540 edges. We analyze within this network of inter-connected personal networks, the ‘reverse’ economic remittances (from non-migrants to migrants). Fitting GLM Probit models with a linear-in-means specification for peer effects, we test for the network impact upon remittance behavior. In these models, we control for individual level characteristics already documented in the literature (e.g., age, gender, education), and for network-level compositional features. Our results support the importance of transnational communication between the ego and her (variously located) alters as well as of the alter category (friend / acquaintance vs. family). In addition, node level attributes (the age and location of ego) have been found statistically significant for the direction of economic remittances – sending or receiving. These findings contribute to the emerging efforts of bridging the gap between migration research and social network analysis. At the same time, our study focuses on a rather ignored aspect in the study of economic remittances, i.e., the circumstances for reverse remittances.

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