Migrant workers can be an important source of income for countries of origin. In 2010, emigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean sent USD 36 billion in remittances (OECD, 2012b) to their countries of origin. The earnings of migrant workers serve not only to support themselves in their adopted countries but also to improve the standard of living of families and relatives who remained in the country of origin (see the chapter on remittances in this publication). Table 11 shows the share of migrant workers from the Americas in each quintile of the income distribution by country of origin. Migrant workers are overrepresented (or underrepresented) in an income quintile when the proportion of migrants in that quintile is greater (or less) than 20 percent.
The overall income distribution reflects an overrepresentation of migrant workers from the Americas in the bottom two quintiles (approximately 30% in each) and an underrepresentation in the top two (10% in each quintile). More than a third of emigrants from Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, and Guatemala were concentrated in the lowest income quintile. In contrast, emigrants from Canada and the United States were concentrated in the highest income quintile. Nearly a third of Canadian emigrants in the United States and Europe were in the top quintile of their destination countries. Other countries with representation in the highest quintile (20% or more) were Argentina, Costa Rica, Dominica, Panama and Venezuela.
The situation of migrant workers in the wage distribution of the United States was relatively better than that of migrant workers in Spain, with the majority of migrants concentrated in the second quintile in the United States compared to the concentration in the bottom quintile. lowest in Spain. In both countries, they were underrepresented in the highest wage quintile. This was not the case in the United States for migrants born elsewhere, with 27% of them concentrated in the highest income quintile; and in Spain where all migrants were concentrated in the lowest wage quintile.
The amount of remittances sent by immigrants from the Americas is surprising, particularly considering that more than 60% of them were in the two lowest income quintiles. The 36 billion dollars in remittances in 2010 means approximately US$1,500 for each migrant aged 15-64 from the Americas employed in an OECD country. The wage level for the 20th percentile (the first quintile cutoff) of workers of Hispanic or Latino ethnicity in the United States was approximately $360 per week in the third quarter of 2012. For the 40th percentile it was approximately $US 490. One
(Table 11: Distribution of income of emigrants from the Americas by country of origin according to income quintiles, average 2010-2011)
A remittance of US$1,500 would therefore correspond to almost a month’s income for people in these quintiles. These would be significant savings rates for people at these income levels and are a testament to the commitment of many migrants from the Americas to their families and relatives.