Inward remittances to South Asia increased by 5.2% to USD 147 billion in 2020, mostly to an increase in flows to Bangladesh and Pakistan. Remittances to India, by far the region's largest recipient country, declined by 0.2% in 2020, owing in part to a 17% drop in remittances from the United Arab Emirates, which was compensated by resilient flows from the United States and other host nations. Remittances to Pakistan increased by nearly 17%, with Saudi Arabia leading the way, followed by European Union countries and the UAE. In Bangladesh, remittances increased by 18.4% in 2020, while in Sri Lanka, remittances increased by 5.8%. India was the largest migrant sending-country with an estimated 17 million migrants, followed by Bangladesh with 7.4 million, Pakistan 6.3 million, and Nepal with 3.5 million (World Bank, Migration and Development Brief 34).
International migration is recognized as one of the most significant effects of globalization. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in its first major update since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, has estimated that there are now 281 million international migrants worldwide—which is 4 out of every 100 people. While the total number of international migrants has increased since the last report in 2019, the growth rate of international migrants has slowed by 27% by mid-2020, resulting in an estimated two million fewer international migrants than predicted. A combination of transportation constraints and economic repercussions have left hundreds of thousands of people stranded. Out of 258 million international migrants worldwide, 41% (106 million) are born in Asia. According to the latest Migration and Development Brief, officially documented remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries totaled USD 540 billion in 2020, just 1.6% less than the amount of USD 548 billion in 2019. Fiscal stimulus resulting in better-than-expected economic conditions in host countries, a shift in flows from cash to digital and from informal to formal channels, and cyclical swings in oil prices and currency exchange rates are the key drivers of a steady influx.