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Aid and Remittances from Canada

Aid vs. Remittances from Canada: a brief comparison

Globally, remittances sent home by migrant workers are estimated to be anywhere from 3 to 4 times aid flows. The two data dashboards above are aimed at providing a comparison between foreign aid flows from Canada and estimates of remittance outflows from Canada to the same countries.

Hovering (on mouse-over) will show the estimated remittance outflow from Canada for 2010-11, the circles are sized to reflect the size of the flows. Remittance outflow data is shown for all countries for which data was available. Clicking on a country should reveal a bar-graph comparison between remittances and aid flows below. The comparison is only available for the 109 countries for which comparable data for both remittances and aid was available. Use the search box to search for a country, or limit the view to countries within a particular income level (low, low middle income etc).

Our estimates for the 109 countries for which comparable data was available show that remittance outflows from Canada to these countries were about 5 times larger than aid flows. Remittance estimates are larger for some of Canada’s largest aid recipients including: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Peru, Kenya, Nigeria, Vietnam and others. The largest estimates of remittance outflows from Canada are to China ($4 billion) and India ($3 billion). The total remittance outflow for Canada (to all countries including developed) is estimated to be about $23 billion in 2010-11.

A second component of the dashboard is the “Remittance Price Explorer”. The explorer provides the average (across Banks and Money Transfer Operators) cost in percentage terms, of sending $200 from Canada to select countries (in Q3/2012). Of the countries included in the data, it is cheapest to remit money from Canada to the Philippines, China and Vietnam, and costliest to remit money from Canada to Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Haiti. However, even for corridors where the cost to remit from Canada is relatively low such as the Philippines and Vietnam, it is still cheaper to send money to these countries from other countries such as the United States.

Methodology & Data

Data included here was drawn from 4 main sources: our Canadian foreign assistance review dashboard; our Migration review dashboard; the World Bank’s bilateral remittance matrix; and the World Bank’s remittance price corridor database. None of the data has been altered in any way. While aid data is in Canadian dollars, and remittance data in US dollars, the two are comparable for the given year. Aid data notably only includes country-specific aid. In some cases countries may receive aid that is not country-specified (e.g. via regionally allocated funds), these are not included in the aid figures. However this does not affect the picture above significantly.

Data issues: while migration data (number of migrants, stock, entries per year) tends to be of a high quality, remittance data is based on assumptions. The World Bank’s remittance matrix data is based on assumptions using migrant stock, host country incomes and origin country incomes. We have found large discrepancies between this and other data from the same source. For instance while the bilateral matrix estimates global remittances at around $500 billion, the Bank’s own remittance outflow database (which relies on data from the IMF, national statistical agencies and Bank country offices) reports the figure at around $337 billion, for the same year (2011). The discrepancy maybe explained by the fact that some countries included in the assumptions based database (bilateral matrix) are not covered in the outflow database (which relies on national and international sources). Therefore these figures should be interpreted cautiously, but are useful in at least providing a sense of the scales involved.


This data is part of ongoing research at The North-South Institute. Comment here, or contact us for more information.


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