Diplomacy

The Long Haul

The Dominican Diaspora

This significant group of émigrés—numbering close to 1 million in the US alone—has also made notable contributions to the societies in which they take up residence. Dominican authors such as […]

This significant group of émigrés—numbering close to 1 million in the US alone—has also made notable contributions to the societies in which they take up residence. Dominican authors such as Junot Dí­az and athletes including David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are household names amongst bibliophiles and baseball fanatics respectively (or alike). Prior to the two major waves of Dominican migration to the US between 1983 and 1992, and 1996 to 2005, the UK was the major destination. From 1959 to 1962, the country recorded an unprecedented wave of migration to the UK before the British authorities imposed immigration restrictions from the Caribbean in 1964. With the UK restricted, migration routes turned to North America, specifically New York and, to a lesser extent, Massachusetts and Florida.

The case of remittances sent to the Dominican Republic by expatriated Dominican nationals unpacks the economic relationship between the expatriate community, its adopted country of residence, and its Dominican homeland. At the opening of the “First Dominican Policy Forum” in January 2015, President Danilo Medina pointed out that remittances to the country from the US were nearly twice that of FDI received over the last three years—only $7.5 billion. Remittances, meanwhile, totaled $13 billion, representing a critical source of revenue for an economy that measured a GDP of $106.2 billion in 2013. Importantly, these remittances are increasing from $4 billion in 2012, to $4.3 billion in 2013, and up to $4.6 billion in 2014. According to Pew Research Center, the per capita remittances per adult migrant were $3,076 in 2012—far less that the $5,558 sent home per year by Guatemalans living in the US during the same year but well above other Caribbean counterparts. While no single factor explains why remittances vary across nationalities, evidence points to levels of integration, as well as length of stay.

According to the US Census Bureau, 63% of Dominican immigrants residing in the US arrived before 2000, with many having made the journey decades earlier in the 1980s. In 2012, 99% of Dominican lawful permanent residents (LPRs) residing in the US were immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or other family-sponsored immigrants. This remarkable statistic leads to two possible conclusions; the Dominican community is highly integrated into US society and yet, still economically and socially integrated with its country of origin (or their parent’s).

These remittances have helped improve the Dominican Republic’s development prospects, buffered external shocks, and maintained macroeconomic stability. Remittances have also negated the effects of high unemployment. In addition, they have increased investment in physical and human capital through increased spending on education, health, and nutrition. In light of this, banks and government institutions are working to make sure that this vital inflow of capital is invested successfully.

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