Migrants' Remittances and the Household in Africa: A Review of Evidence

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Jean-Paul Azam

Jean-Paul Azam

University of Toulouse I - Advanced Research in Quantitative Applied Development Economics (ARQADE)

Flore Gubert

Université Paris Dauphine; Université Paris Dauphine - PSL Research University; Université Paris Dauphine - UMR DIAL

Abstract

This paper reviews some of the microeconomic evidence concerning migration and remittances in Africa. After a brief survey of the literature, it draws some lessons from two surveys performed in the Senegal River valley in Mali and in Senegal. The paper makes two main points. First, migration cannot be understood as an individual decision, but must instead be regarded as a collective decision made by the extended family or the village. It involves the strategic choice of sending its best offspring away with a view to diversify its risks and to build a social network. Then, remittances are to a large extent a contingent flow, aimed at buttressing the family's consumption in case of adverse shock. Secondly, however, this insurance system involves some moral hazard, as those remaining behind tend to exert less effort to take care of themselves, knowing that the migrants will compensate any consumption shortfall, with a high probability. These results undermine a very popular view about migration on the basis of relative deprivation and solve a puzzle that bugged this literature for nearly three decades: the rich families are more likely to send some migrants away and thus get more remittances, while they earn less income in the village because of moral hazard. Wealth makes them lazy, while low (earned) income does not make them poor!

Suggested Citation

Azam, Jean-Paul and Gubert, Flore, Migrants' Remittances and the Household in Africa: A Review of Evidence. Journal of African Economies, Vol. 15, Issue 2, pp. 426-462, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1097929 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jae/ejl030

Jean-Paul Azam (Contact Author)

University of Toulouse I - Advanced Research in Quantitative Applied Development Economics (ARQADE) ( email )

21 Allee de Brienne
Toulouse, 31000
France

Flore Gubert

Université Paris Dauphine ( email )

Place du Maréchal de Tassigny
Paris, Cedex 16 75775
France

Université Paris Dauphine - PSL Research University ( email )

Place du Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny
Paris cedex 16, 75775
France

Université Paris Dauphine - UMR DIAL ( email )

Paris
France

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