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Mapped: The Ins and Outs of Remittance Flows

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Global remittance flows

Mapped: The Ins and Outs of Remittance Flows

The global immigrant population is growing at a robust pace, and their aggregate force is one to be reckoned with. In 2019, migrants collectively sent $550.5 billion in money back to their home countries—money transfer flows that are also known as remittances.

Remittances serve as an economic lifeline around the world, particularly for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Today’s visualization relies on the latest data from the World Bank to create a snapshot of these global remittance flows.

Where do most of these remittances come from, and which countries are the biggest recipients?

Remittances: An Origin Story

Remittances are a type of capital flow, with significant impacts on the places they wind up. These money transfers have surpassed official aid being sent to LMICs for decades, and in this day and age, are rivaling even Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows.

Remittance flows mainly help improve basic living standards such as housing, healthcare, and education, with leftover funds going towards other parts of the economy. They can also be a means for increasing the social mobility of family and friends back home.

Altogether, 50% of remittances are sent in either U.S. dollars, or the closely-linked currencies of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, such as the Saudi riyal. It’s not surprising then, that the U.S. is the biggest origin country of remittances, contributing $68.5 billion in 2018—more than double that of the next-highest country, Saudi Arabia, at $33.6 billion.

Remittance Flows As A Safety Net

The impact of remittances on LMICs can vary depending on what you measure. In absolute terms, the top 10 LMIC recipients received $350 billion, or nearly 64% of total remittances in 2019.

Top Remittance Recipients in 2019 (USD)

RankCountryRemittance Inflows% of Nominal GDP
#1🇮🇳 India$82.2B2.8%
#2🇨🇳 China$70.3B0.5%
#3🇲🇽 Mexico$38.7B3.1%
#4🇵🇭 Philippines$35.1B9.8%
#5🇪🇬 Egypt$26.4B8.8%
#6🇳🇬 Nigeria$25.4B5.7%
#7🇵🇰 Pakistan$21.9B7.9%
#8🇧🇩 Bangladesh$17.5B5.5%
#9🇻🇳 Vietnam$16.7B6.4%
#10🇺🇦 Ukraine$15.9B11.8%

India tops the chart as the largest remittances beneficiary, followed by China and Mexico. Interestingly, these three countries are also the main destinations of remittance flows from the U.S., but in the reverse order. Mexico and the U.S. have one of the most interconnected remittance corridors in the world.

However, the chart above makes it clear that simply counting the dollars is only one part of the picture. Despite these multi-billion dollar numbers, remittances are equal to only a fraction of these economies.

By looking at remittances as a percentage of nominal GDP, it’s clear that they can have an outsize impact on nations, even if the overall value of flows are much lower in comparison.

Top Remittance Recipients in 2019 (% of GDP)

RankCountryRemittance Inflows% of Nominal GDP
#1🇹🇴 Tonga$0.19B38.5%
#2🇭🇹 Haiti$3.3B34.3%
#3🇳🇵 Nepal$8.6B29.9%
#4🇹🇯 Tajikistan$2.3B29.7%
#5🇰🇬 Kyrgyz Republic$2.4B29.6%
#6🇭🇳 Honduras$5.3B21.4%
#7🇸🇻 El Salvador$5.6B20.8%
#8🇰🇲 Comoros$0.14B19.3%
#9🇼🇸 Samoa$0.17B18.4%
#10🇵🇸 West Bank and Gaza$2.6B17.6%

It’s clear that the cash influxes provided by remittances are crucial to many smaller countries. Take the Polynesian archipelago of Tonga, for example: even though it only saw $190 million in remittances from abroad, that amount accounts for nearly 40% of the country’s nominal GDP.

Will The Remittance Tides Turn?

The World Bank projects remittance flows to increase to nearly $600 billion by 2021. But are such projections of future remittance flows reliable? The researchers offer two reasons why remittances may ebb and flow.

On one hand, anti-immigration sentiment across major economies could complicate this growth, as evidenced by Brexit. The good news? That doesn’t stop immigration itself from taking place. Instead, where these migrants and their money end up, are constantly in flux.

This means that as immigration steadily grows, so will remittance flows. What’s more, fintech innovations have the potential to bolster this progress, by making money transfers cheaper and easier to access.

Tackling [high transaction costs] is crucial not only for economic and social development, but also for improving financial inclusion.

UN ESCAP, Oct 2019

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Debt

Visualizing the Snowball of Government Debt

After an unprecedented borrowing spree in response to COVID-19, what does government debt look like around the world?

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Visualizing the Snowball of Government Debt in 2021

As we approach the second half of 2021, many countries around the world are beginning to relax their COVID-19 restrictions.

And while this signals a return to normalcy for much of the global economy, there’s one subject that’s likely to remain controversial: government debt.

To see how each country is faring in the aftermath of an unprecedented global borrowing spree, this graphic from HowMuch.net visualizes debt-to-GDP ratios using April 2021 data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Ranking the Top 10 in Government Debt

Government debt is often analyzed through the debt-to-GDP metric because it contextualizes an otherwise massive number.

Take for example the U.S. national debt, which currently sits at over $27 trillion. In isolation this figure sounds daunting, but when expressed as a % of U.S. GDP, it works out to a more relatable 133%. This format also allows us to make a better comparison between countries, especially when their economies differ in size.

With that being said, here are the top 10 countries in terms of debt-to-GDP. For further context, we’ve included their 2019 and 2020 values as well.

Rank (2021)CountryDebt-to-GDP (2019)Debt-to-GDP (2020)Debt-to-GDP (April 2021)
#1🇯🇵 Japan235%256%257%
#2🇸🇩 Sudan200%262%212%
#3🇬🇷 Greece185%213%210%
#4🇪🇷 Eritrea189%185%176%
#5🇸🇷 Suriname93%166%157%
#6🇮🇹 Italy135%156%157%
#7🇧🇧 Barbados127%149%143%
#8🇲🇻 Maldives78%143%140%
#9🇨🇻 Cape Verde125%139%138%
#10🇧🇿 Belize98%127%135%

Source: IMF

Japan tops the list with a ratio of 257%, though this isn’t really a surprise—the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio first surpassed 100% in the 1990s, and in 2010, it became the first advanced economy to reach 200%.

Such significant debt burdens are the result of non-traditional monetary policies, many of which were first implemented by Japan, then adopted by others. In the late 1990s, for instance, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) set interest rates at 0% to counter deflation and promote economic growth.

This low cost of borrowing enables businesses and governments to accumulate debt much more freely, and has seen widespread use among other developed nations post-2008.

What are the Risks?

Given that a majority of countries in this visual are red (meaning their debt-to-GDP ratios are over 50%), it’s safe to say that government borrowing is common practice.

But are large government debts a cause for concern?

Some believe that excessive borrowing will lead to higher interest costs in the long run, which could detract from economic growth and public sector investment. This theory is unlikely to become a reality anytime soon, however.

A recent report by RBC Wealth Management reported that the cost of servicing U.S. federal debt actually decreased in 2020, thanks to the low borrowing costs mentioned previously.

Perhaps a more prescient question would be: how long can the world’s central banks keep interest rates at near-zero levels?

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Money

Ranked: The World’s 25 Richest Millennial Billionaires

There are over 2,700 billionaires in the world, but how many are millennials? This visual breaks down the richest millennial billionaires.

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Ranked: The World’s 25 Richest Millennial Billionaires

There are 2,755 billionaires globally—and combined, they are worth over $13 trillion.

Of these ultra wealthy individuals, just over 100 are millennials, born between the years 1981 and 1996. This young generation represents around 3.8% of all billionaires on a global basis with a combined net worth of $573.1 billion.

This visualization, using data from Forbes, ranks the richest 25 millennial billionaires and details their source of wealth, total net worth, nationality, and age.

Note: Forbes categorized billionaires by current age (2021). For those slightly over or under the age range of Millennials, meaning those who are currently 24 or 40 years old (i.e. they could have been born in either 1996/1997 or 1980/1981), if their birth year could not be accurately determined, they were left out of this ranking.

Who are the Millennial Billionaires?

The oldest millennials will be turning 40 in 2021, while the youngest are just turning 25. This means that millennial billionaires are generally the youngest billionaires in the world, save two Gen Zers: Wang Zelong of China, 24, and Kevin David Lehmann of Germany, 18.

NameAgeNet WorthCountryIndustry
Mark Zuckerberg36$97.0 BU.S.Tech
Zhang Yiming37$35.6 BChinaTech
Yang Huiyan & family39$29.6 BChinaReal Estate
Dustin Moskovitz36$17.8 BU.S.Tech
Su Hua39$17.8 BChinaMedia & Entertainment
Pavel Durov36$17.2 BRussiaTech
Lukas Walton34$15.6 BU.S.Fashion & Retail 
Eduardo Saverin39$14.6 BBrazilTech
Cheng Yixiao37$14.1 BChinaMedia & Entertainment
Brian Chesky39$13.7 BU.S.Tech
Nathan Blecharczyk37$12.4 BU.S.Tech
Joe Gebbia39$12.4 BU.S.Tech
Bobby Murphy32$11.9 BU.S.Tech
Evan Spiegel30$11.1 BU.S. Tech
Guillaume Pousaz39$9.0 BSwitzerlandFinance & Investments
Sam Bankman-Fried29$8.7 BU.S.Finance & Investments
Agnete Kirk Thinggaard37$8.7 BDenmarkManufacturing
Dmitry Bukhman35$7.9 BRussiaMedia & Entertainment
Igor Bukhman39$7.9 BRussiaMedia & Entertainment
Ernest Garcia, III.38$7.4 BU.S.Automotive
Brian Armstrong38$6.5 BU.S.Finance & Investments
Wang Ning & family34$6.3 BChinaMedia & Entertainment
Scott Duncan38$6.0 BU.S.Energy
David Velez39$5.2 BColombiaFinance & Investments
Kate Wang39$5.0 BChinaManufacturing 
Daniel Ek38$4.6 BSwedenTechnology
Gustav Magnar Witzoe27$4.4 BNorwayFood & Beverage
Steven Meng Yang & family38$4.2 BChinaTechnology
Li Xiang39$4.0 BChinaAutomotive
Ben Silbermann38$3.9 BU.S.Technology
Lynsi Snyder38$3.6 BU.S.Food & Beverage
Apoorva Mehta34$3.5 BCanadaTechnology
Franco Bittar Garcia37$3.5 BBrazilFashion & Retail 
Xu Yi31$3.4 BChina Media & Entertainment
RJ Scaringe38$3.4 BU.S.Automotive
Patrick Collison32$3.2 B Ireland Technology
John Collison30$3.2 BIrelandTechnology
Pedro de Godoy Bueno30$3.0 BBrazil Healthcare
Geoffrey Kwok35$3.0 BHong KongReal Estate
Yin Xin36$3.0 BChinaMedia & Entertainment
Huang Jinfeng38$3.0 BChinaFashion & Retail
Cameron Winklevoss39$3.0 BU.S.Finance & Investments
Tyler Winklevoss39$3.0 BU.S.Finance & Investments
Paul Sciarra40$2.9 BU.S. Technology
Chen Tianshi36$2.8 BChinaTechnology
Tony Xu36$2.8 BU.S.Technology
Victor Jacobsson39$2.7 BSwedenFiannce & Investments
Caroline Hagen Kjos37$2.6 BNorwayDiversified
Adam Kwok38$2.6 BHong KongReal Estate
André Street36$2.5 BBrazilFinance & Investments
Chang Jing38$2.5 BChinaTechnology
Byju Raveendran and Divya Gokulnath39$2.5 BIndiaTechnology
Austin Russell26$2.4 BU.S.Automotive
Jonathan Kwok29$2.4 BHong KongReal Estate
David Chen40$2.4 BSingaporeMedia & Entertainment
Tom Persson36$2.3 BSwedenFashion & Retail
Jared Isaacman38$2.3 BU.S. Technology
Andrew Paradise38$2.3 BU.S. Media & Entertainment
Sebastian Siemiatkowski39$2.2 BSwedenFinance & Investments
Timur Turlov33$2.1 BRussiaFinance & Investments
Gong Yingying36$2.1 BChinaHealthcare
Katarina Martinson39$2.1 BSwedenDiversified
Andy Fang28$2.0 BU.S.Technology
Stanley Tang28$2.0 BU.S. Technology
Christopher Kwok35$1.9 BHong KongReal Estate
Ipek Kirac36$1.9 BTurkeyDiversified
Kevin Systrom37$1.9 BU.S.Technology
Fred Ehrsam32$1.9 BU.S. Finance & Investments
Nick Molnar30$1.8 BAustraliaFinance & Investments
Joachim Ante38$1.8 BGermanyTechnology
Drew Houston38$1.8 BU.S. Technology
Said Gutseriev32$1.7 BRussiaEnergy
Ginia Rinehart34$1.7 BAustraliaMetals & Mining
Hope Welker35$1.7 BAustraliaMetals & Mining
Bill Liu38$1.7 BChinaTechnology
Peter Szulczewski39$1.7 BCanadaTechnology
Lisa Draexlmaier30$1.6 BGermanyAutomotive
Eva Maria Braun-Luedicke34$1.6 BGermanyHealthcare
Heikki Herlin34$1.6 BFinlandManufacturing
Ryan Cohen35$1.6 BCanadaFiannce & Investments
Friederike Braun-Luedicke37$1.6 BGermanyHealthcare
Wen Yilong32$1.5 BChinaManufacturing
Zeng Chaolin38$1.5 BChinaMetals & Mining
Alexandra Andresen24$1.4 BNorwayDiversified
Katharina Andresen25$1.4 BNorwayDiversified
Karl Friedrich Braun38$1.4 BGermanyHealthcare
Trevor Milton39$1.4 BU.S.Automotive
Ludwig Theodor Braun31$1.3 BGermanyHealthcare
Anna Kasprzak31$1.3 BDenmark Fashion & Retail
Whitney Wolfe Herd31$1.3 BU.S.Technology
André Kasprzak34$1.3 BDenmarkFashion & Retail
Hakan Koc36$1.2 BGermanyAutomotive
Nik Storonsky36$1.2 BUKTechnology
Christian Bertermann37$1.2 BGermanyAutomotive
Ryan Graves37$1.2 BU.S.Technology
Cheng Wei38$1.2 BChinaService
Lu Zhilin38$1.2 BChinaManufacturing
Sachin Bansal39$1.2 BIndiaFashion & Retail
Huang Yimeng39$1.2 BChinaMedia & Entertainment
Wang Han33$1.1 BChinaDiversified
Anne Werninghaus35$1.1 BBrazil Manufacturing
Binny Bansal38$1.1 BIndiaTechnology
Sanjit Biswas39$1.1 BU.S.Technology
Vlad Tenev34$1.0 BU.S.Fiannce & Investments
Baiju Bhatt36$1.0 BU.S.Finance & Investments
Hou Jianbin39$1.0 BChinaService

The U.S. is home to the most millennial billionaires at 33 total, with China coming in second at 23—most other countries fall far behind.

In the U.S., millennial billionaires are often associated with notable tech companies like Snapchat, Airbnb, and Facebook. Others are heirs of massive family fortunes like Lukas Walton—grandson of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and the original head of America’s richest family.

In China, some millennial billionaires really stand out, like Relx founder, Kate Wang. The 39-year-old started her e-cigarette and vape company only three years ago, at age 36, and is expected to soon be vying for the title of richest woman in China.

Billionaire Growth

Overall, billionaires were up $8 trillion in combined net worth compared to 2020 with around 493 new people added to the list in 2021.

In fact, 86% of all billionaires are richer than a year ago. But let’s look at how wealth changed for the millennials in the billionaires club. Here’s a look at the difference in net worth from 2020 to 2021 for the top five richest millennials:

  • Mark Zuckerberg: +$35 Billion
  • Zhang Yiming: +$19.4 Billion
  • Yang Huiyan: +$9.3 Billion
  • Dustin Moskovitz: +$8.5 Billion
  • Su Hua: +$14.9 Billion

For each of the top 25 millennial billionaires, net worth either increased or was unchanged (or they were new to the title of billionaire). This is true for all except one person—Lukas Walton, whose net worth decreased by almost $3 billion from 2020 to 2021.

The Average Millennial

While there are around 106 millennial billionaires worldwide, their combined net worth is only a fraction of total billionaire wealth. So how much economic power and influence does this generation really hold?

When looking at the average American millennial’s wealth, the Generational Power Index has determined that this young generation only holds 9.6% of economic power in the U.S. Here’s a quick look at millennial wealth metrics in the U.S.:

  • Millennials only make up 7% of American business leaders
  • They own $73 billion in equities and mutual fund shares
  • They represent 13% of small business leaders
  • They make up 7% of American billionaire wealth

Globally, there are an estimated 1.8 billion millennials. Among that cohort, there are just over 100 people worth billions—and given that many are still in the early part of their careers, there is likely to be many millennial billionaires yet to come.

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