The Dynamics of Remittance Behavior Among Senegalese Immigrants in Spain

Ognjen Obucina, INED
Ignacio Carrasco, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)

The main objective of this paper is to analyze how the economic integration at destination, ties to the country of origin, and migration decision-making process affect the dynamics of remittance behavior among Senegalese immigrant men and women in Spain. We analyze the determinants of both remittance sending and the termination thereof. The empirical analysis is based on retrospective data from the Migration between Africa and Europe (MAFE) and the Migrations between Senegal and Spain (MESE) surveys. In the first part of the analysis, we use logistic regression to analyze the odds of sending remittances at any point after arrival in Spain. In the second part, we use event history analysis to explore which factors determine the initiation of remittance sending as well as the termination of remittances once initiated. The results show that 1) a majority of Senegalese immigrants remit, 2) most of them start remitting soon after arrival in Spain, and 3) once they start remitting, almost three quarters of Senegalese in Spain maintain this activity over the subsequent ten years. The multivariate analysis shows a strong positive association between being employed and remittance sending. Strong ties to the origin are also important predictors of remittance behavior – having at least one child in Senegal and having assets in Senegal increase the likelihood of remitting. Frequent visits to Senegal are also positively and significantly associated with remittance sending. The lack of economic capacities, such as non-employment, substantially increases the likelihood of stopping to remit. Having no children in Senegal also increases the likelihood of remittance termination, whereas other indicators of ties to the origin are not significant predictors of remittance termination. The nature of migration decision-making process is not a significant predictor of the dynamics of remittance behavior.

Introduction

The goal of this study is to analyze how the economic integration at destination and ties to the country of origin affect the dynamics of remittance behavior among Senegalese immigrant men and women in Spain. We adopt a dynamic approach and analyze the determinants of both the initiation and termination of remittance sending. Migrants’ remittances have steadily increased during the last decades, becoming one of the most resilient economic flows to developing countries. As of 2013, remittances were at the global level twice larger than official development assistance. In Senegal, official monetary remittances accounted for 10 percent of the country’s GDP in 2011. In absolute terms, Senegal is the fourth largest receiver of remittances in Africa. Along with France and Italy, Spain is the principal destination for Senegalese immigrants in Europe.

Theoretical background and hypotheses

Remittances are understood as transnational activities that keep migrants connected to their countries of origin, and emerge from a combination of migrant’s capacity and desire to engage in a wide range of transnational practices, such as support to relatives, support to future migrants, or investments. Based on the previous research, we propose four main hypotheses. The first hypothesis is based on the evidence that economic integration is associated with higher levels of capacity to remit. We therefore expect employment to be positively associated with remittance sending and negatively associated with the termination of remittances, once these are initiated. The second hypothesis focuses on the link between migration decision-making process and transnational lifestyle. In particular, drawing on the concepts of the New Economics of Labor Migration (NELM), we expect the likelihood of remitting to be higher and the likelihood of the termination of remittances to be lower if the migration move was a collective decision, or if it was financed collectively. The third hypothesis refers to the link between family and migration, whereby we expect immigrants who have children or other relatives in Senegal to be more likely to remit, and less likely to stop remitting once they start doing so. Finally, the fourth hypothesis predicts that emotional and economic links to the country of origin (e.g. investments, or frequent visits to Senegal) will also be positively associated with remittance sending, and negatively associated with the termination of remittances.

Data and methods

The data used in this paper stem from two closely related surveys: The Migrations between Africa and Europe (MAFE), and the Migrations between Senegal and Spain (MESE). Since the two surveys have almost an identical design, we use the “Senegalese sample” of the MAFE survey and merge it with the data from MESE. Our MAFE-MESE dataset contains annual retrospective information on a wide range of life course domains (migration, employment, family, housing, etc.). Our study includes Senegalese immigrant men and women aged 25 to 65 at the time of the survey, and who were at least 18 when they emigrated from Senegal. The empirical analysis of the dynamics of remittances is divided into two parts. First, we use logistic regression to analyze the odds of remittance sending over the whole period since arrival in Spain. Second, we use event history approach to analyze what factors contribute to the initiation and termination of remittance sending.

Main results

The Kaplan-Meier analysis shows that most Senegalese immigrants in Spain remit at some point, with a majority starting to remit already in the first year after arrival in Spain. Once initiated, remittance sending seems to be a fairly persistent activity – only around one quarter of immigrants will have stopped to remit within ten years after starting to do so. The multivariate analysis supports our first hypothesis, as employed migrants are, all else equal, indeed much more likely to remit and much less likely to stop remitting, as compared to non-employed migrants. The second hypothesis is not supported by our analysis – the migration strategy, whether with respect to decision-making process or financing the trip, is not associated with the dynamics of remitting behavior. The third hypothesis, that focuses on family ties, is partially confirmed – the Senegalese in Spain are more likely to remit and less likely to stop remitting if they have at least one child living in Senegal. On the other hand, having a partner in Senegal has a marginal impact on the remitting behavior. The analysis also lends some support to the fourth hypothesis, since having assets in Senegal and frequent visits to Senegal increase the likelihood of remittance sending, but are not significantly associated with the termination of remittances. It is also noteworthy than women are less likely to start, but also to stop remitting, whereas age and education level are not significantly associated with either the initiation or termination of remittance behavior.

Presented in Session 1089: International Migration and Migrant Populations