Visualizing Remittance Flows and GDP Impact By Country
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the flow of global immigration by 27%. Alongside it, travel restrictions, job losses, and mounting health concerns meant that many migrant workers couldn’t send money in the form of remittances back to families in their home countries.
This flow of remittances received by countries dropped by 1.5% to $711 billion globally in 2020. But over the next two years, things quickly turned back around.
As visa approvals restarted and international borders opened, so did international migration and global remittance flows. In 2021, total global remittances were estimated at $781 billion and have further risen to $794 billion in 2022.
In these images, Richie Lionell uses the World Bank’s KNOMAD data to visualize this increasing flow of money across international borders in 176 countries.
Why Do Remittances Matter?
Remittances contribute to the economy of nations worldwide, especially low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
They have been shown to help alleviate poverty, improve nutrition, and even increase school enrollment rates in these nations. Research has also found that these inflows of income can help recipient households become resilient, especially in the face of disasters.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that these transfers aren’t a silver bullet for recipient nations. In fact, some research shows that overreliance on remittances can cause a vicious cycle that doesn’t translate to consistent economic growth over time.
Countries Receiving the Highest Remittances
For the past 15 years, India has consistently topped the chart of the largest remittance beneficiaries.
|Rank||Remittance Inflows by Country||2022 (USD)|
|5||Egypt, Arab Rep.||$32,337M|
|47||West Bank and Gaza||$3,495M|
|59||Bosnia and Herzegovina||$2,400M|
|71||Congo, Dem. Rep.||$1,664M|
|106||Hong Kong SAR, China||$571M|
|139||Trinidad and Tobago||$172M|
|148||St. Vincent and the Grenadines||$70M|
|161||Antigua and Barbuda||$35M|
|162||St. Kitts and Nevis||$33M|
|166||Macao SAR, China||$17M|
|170||Sao Tome and Principe||$10M|
|175||Papua New Guinea||$2M|
With an estimated $100 billion in remittances received, India is said to have reached an all-time high in 2022.
This increasing flow of remittances can be partially attributed to migrant Indians switching to high-skilled jobs in high-income countries—including the U.S., the UK, and Singapore—from low-skilled and low-paying jobs in Gulf countries.
Mexico and China round out the top three remittance-receiving nations, with estimated inbound transfers of $60 billion and $51 billion respectively in 2022.
Impact on National GDP
While India tops the list of countries benefitting from remittances, its $100 billion received amounts to only 2.9% of its 2022 GDP.
Meanwhile, low and middle-income countries around the world heavily rely on this source of income to boost their economies in a more substantive way. In 2022, for example, remittances accounted for over 15% of the GDP of 25 countries.
|Rank||Remittance Inflows by Country||% of GDP (2022)|
|19||West Bank and Gaza||18.5%|
|29||Bosnia and Herzegovina||10.1%|
|45||St. Vincent and the Grenadines||7.3%|
|47||Egypt, Arab Rep.||6.8%|
|77||St. Kitts and Nevis||2.9%|
|82||Congo, Dem. Rep.||2.6%|
|90||Sao Tome and Principe||2.0%|
|93||Antigua and Barbuda||2.0%|
|127||Trinidad and Tobago||0.5%|
|153||Hong Kong SAR, China||0.1%|
|160||Macao SAR, China||0.07%|
|171||Papua New Guinea||0.01%|
Known primarily as a tourist destination, the Polynesian country of Tonga banks on remittance inflows to support its economy. In 2022, the country’s incoming remittance flows were equal to almost 50% of its GDP.
Next on this list is Lebanon. The country received $6.8 billion in remittances in 2022, estimated to equal almost 38% of its GDP and making it a key support to the nation’s shrinking economy.
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
The $16 Trillion European Union Economy
This chart shows the contributors to the EU economy through a percentage-wise distribution of country-level GDP.
The $16 Trillion European Union Economy
The European Union has the third-largest economy in the world, accounting for one-sixth of global trade. All together, 27 member countries make up one internal market allowing free movement of goods, services, capital and people.
But how did this sui generis (a class by itself) political entity come into being?
A Brief History of the EU
After the devastating aftermath of the World War II, Western Europe saw a concerted move towards regional peace and security by promoting democracy and protecting human rights.
Crucially, the Schuman Declaration was presented in 1950. The coal and steel industries of Western Europe were integrated under common management, preventing countries from turning on each other and creating weapons of war. Six countries signed on — the eventual founders of the EU.
Here’s a list of all 27 members of the EU and the year they joined.
|Country||Year of entry|
Greater economic and security cooperation followed over the next four decades, along with the addition of new members. These tighter relationships disincentivized conflict, and Western Europe—after centuries of constant war—has seen unprecedented peace for the last 80 years.
The modern version of the EU can trace its origin to 1993, with the adoption of the name, ‘the European Union,’ the birth of a single market, and the promise to use a single currency—the euro.
Since then the EU has become an economic and political force to reckon with. Its combined gross domestic product (GDP) stood at $16.6 trillion in 2022, after the U.S. ($26 trillion) and China ($19 trillion.)
Front Loading the EU Economy
For the impressive numbers it shows however, the European Union’s economic might is held up by three economic giants, per data from the International Monetary Fund. Put together, the GDPs of Germany ($4 trillion), France ($2.7 trillion) and Italy ($1.9 trillion) make up more than half of the EU’s entire economic output.
These three countries are also the most populous in the EU, and together with Spain and Poland, account for 66% of the total population of the EU.
Here’s a table of all 27 member states and the percentage they contribute to the EU’s gross domestic product.
|Rank||Country||GDP (Billion USD)||% of the EU Economy|
The top-heaviness continues. By adding Spain ($1.3 trillion) and the Netherlands ($990 billion), the top five make up nearly 70% of the EU’s GDP. That goes up to 85% when the top 10 countries are included.
That means less than half of the 27 member states make up $14 trillion of the $16 trillion EU economy.
Older Members, Larger Share
Aside from the most populous members having bigger economies, another pattern emerges, with the time the country has spent in the EU.
Five of the six founders of the EU—Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium—are in the top 10 biggest economies of the EU. Ireland and Denmark, the next entrants into the union (1973) are ranked 9th and 11th respectively. The bottom 10 countries all joined the EU post-2004.
The UK—which joined the bloc in 1973 and formally left in 2020—would have been the second-largest economy in the region at $3.4 trillion.
Sectoral Analysis of the EU
The EU has four primary sectors of economic output: services, industry, construction, and agriculture (including fishing and forestry.) Below is an analysis of some of these sectors and the countries which contribute the most to it. All figures are from Eurostat.
Services and Tourism
The EU economy relies heavily on the services sector, accounting for more than 70% of the value added to the economy in 2020. It also is the sector with the highest share of employment in the EU, at 73%.
In Luxembourg, which has a large financial services sector, 87% of the country’s gross domestic product came from the services sector.
Tourism economies like Malta and Cyprus also had an above 80% share of services in their GDP.
Meanwhile 20% of the EU’s gross domestic product came from industry, with Ireland’s economy having the most share (40%) in its GDP. Czechia, Slovenia and Poland also had a significant share of industry output.
Mining coal and lignite in the EU saw a brief rebound in output in 2021, though levels continued to be subdued.
|Rank||Sector||% of the EU Economy|
|4.||Agriculture, forestry and fishing||1.8%|
Less than 2% of the EU’s economy relies on agriculture, forestry and fishing. Romania, Latvia, and Greece feature as contributors to this sector, however the share in total output in each country is less than 5%. Bulgaria has the highest employment (16%) in this sector compared to other EU members.
The EU imports nearly 60% of its energy requirements. Until the end of 2021, Russia was the biggest exporter of petroleum and natural gas to the region. After the war in Ukraine that share has steadily decreased from nearly 25% to 15% for petroleum liquids and from nearly 40% to 15% for natural gas, per Eurostat.
Headwinds, High Seas
The IMF has a gloomy outlook for Europe heading into 2023. War in Ukraine, spiraling energy costs, high inflation, and stagnant wage growth means that EU leaders are facing “severe trade-offs and tough policy decisions.”
Reforms—to relieve supply constraints in the labor and energy markets—are key to increasing growth and relieving price pressures, according to the international body. The IMF projects that the EU will grow 0.7% in 2023.
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